(Editor’s note: This is a letter from the principals of the high school formerly known as Drake explaining the impending name change.)
H.S. 1327 Community:
We want to begin our letter by thanking everyone for the time and space needed to open school. Our top priority was ensuring teachers were prepared to teach and that students were able to access their classes. We would like to provide communication regarding the name change and our hope is to provide an understanding of what has happened and how we are moving forward to allow this process to unite us as a community. We will continue to find space for us to talk about this name change. We also know that there needs to be some clarity about what has taken place and what the process will be moving forward.
We’ve heard questions about the process and the reason behind the name change over the past month. Listening to and considering multiple perspectives is key to learning and growth. We know how important our school is to our community. It is the hub of gatherings, learning, and home to many in this community. This is a community school and that will NEVER change.
Why are we considering changing Sir Francis Drake High School’s name at all?
A committee of staff members who wanted to investigate the changing of our school name came together on June 1st and began working on this mission. The “why” statement developed by the teachers is linked here.
We have heard from our community that simply changing the name is performative and to truly address racism, it is essential to challenge the systemic and institutional issues of oppression at the school. We hear that perspective and keep it at the forefront of our thinking. In our listening meeting with students, they explained to us that we have work to do to deal with the racism on campus and they told us that a name change was a first and important step.
To many, the name Sir Francis Drake does not represent a person in history that we can build a more inclusive school around. It is a name that represents white colonialism and this perspective is not inclusive of multiple races or cultures other than the white dominant race. We have heard many perspectives of history regarding Francis Drake. We also recognize the debate of history and the opposing perspectives that may never agree. We must ask ourselves about the values of our community today, not in 1951 when the name was chosen. The values we are striving for in an equity-based, anti-racist, and inclusive school community are not represented through Francis Drake. These values align with our “why” for the name change and the goal to reimagine a school with a name that makes every student and staff member feel this school is for them. Ultimately, our school will embody the excellence, spirit, and legacy with any name affixed across the front. This we know without a doubt.
Why Spend Money?
Under TUHSD Board Policy 7310, the cost of naming schools or buildings resides at the school. The school or district will not spend any money on changing the name. All the money will come from grants and fundraising efforts. In addition, we do not plan to ask our Drake Fund to help with the cost – for the money they raise should be designated for avenues to support the students and staff.
We do not believe the money should be what stops us from creating a school whose name makes our staff and students feel inclusive. We believe the community members who say they will work diligently to raise the money for this to get done. For more information, please see our FAQs.
Why is the Name Already Down? Is the Name Change Official? Why Not Call it Drake Until a New Name is Picked?
The official name of the school is still Sir Francis Drake High School until the TUHSD Board of Trustees officially changes the name. The removal of the name and associating signage was complete on July 28th after we learned about possible vandalism planned on campus. District Leadership made the decision to remove the name due to safety concerns and we communicated this to the community on the afternoon of the removal of the name. Again, our removal of the name is not a decision that the name change is official but rather to ensure the safety of the school building.
Following the removal of the actual name from the building, we decided to move forward with using an alternative temporary name, rather than Drake, for the immediate future. Again, we discussed the emotional safety of our staff and students. To provide a temporary name, it was decided by a team of teachers and students to go with a generic name (the school address) as a “placeholder” until the process moves forward.
What other information is there and where do I find it?
Please visit our school website for up-to-date information on the name change process. It includes our FAQ sheet, a form to submit new name suggestions and all the notes/recordings of our listening input sessions.
Thank you for your continued support of our amazing school. We know that regardless of what our name may be, we all share a deep commitment to the students who attend here, a belief in the excellence of the education they receive and a deep sense of community spirit. We are being given the opportunity to face a challenge and be the united community we all love. Thank you for being passionate and respectful as we face the future together.
Chad Stuart/Assistant Principal
Nate Severin/Assistant Principal