DATE: July 1, 2020
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Charter School Community Advisory Committee Will Meet Next Week to Discuss Its Recommendation of a New School Name
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Community Advisory Committee, convened to recommend a name for the new charter school, will meet next Tuesday to reexamine its recommendation to Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas that the new school should be named Rose Hill Community School.
The committee’s decision to meet next week follows reports in the media that the land upon which the school is located once was the site of Rose Hill Plantation, which owned slaves. In fact, the plantation was owned by Thomas Jefferson and sold in 1800 to John Craven. Craven died in 1847 and portions of the land subsequently were sold to emancipated former slaves who built private homes on the land. The location eventually became part of the historic Rose Hill Community, home to generations of Black families and businesses.
The committee’s facilitator, Stephanie Passman, said this week that the Rose Hill name was selected by advisory committee members to honor the first occupants of a school on the site, which was called Rose Hill Elementary School. The school educated Black students prior to integration. In fact, 16 of the 26 Albemarle County Black students who first integrated public schools once attended Rose Hill Elementary. Several well-known Black teachers taught at the school, including Asalie Preston, for whom both the Minor-Preston Scholarship Fund and nearby Preston Avenue are named.
The committee’s recommendation followed two community public opinion surveys and two public meetings to consider more than 100 suggested names. Eventually, the committee narrowed its choices down to three before deciding upon Rose Hill Community School. There were no concerns expressed to the advisory committee about the Rose Hill Community School name during this process.
Passman said in light of the criticism about the land’s origin, the advisory committee, which had completed its work, will conduct additional research on the history of the Rose Hill location and neighborhood. “Our committee has said from the beginning that it is important to hear from as many different voices as possible. We believe it is important to reopen our deliberations for that purpose,” she said.
The committee said that following its research, it would forward supplemental conclusions to Dr. Haas, who will recommend a name for the new school to the School Board. The Board will make the decision on the school name. “Our goal is to have a name for our new school in place by the time school reopens on Tuesday, September 8,” Passman said.
The new school was formed from the merger of the division’s former charter high school, Murray, and the former charter middle school, the Community Public Charter School.
The charter high school was founded in 1988 and temporarily housed in Virginia L. Murray Elementary School. The elementary school is named for a prominent Black educator and school administrator who served for several decades beginning prior to World War II. When the high school students in the elementary school were relocated to the site of the former Rose Hill Elementary School, the charter school continued to use its original Murray location name.
During its deliberations, the advisory committee noted that having two schools in the school division with the same name has at times been confusing, especially with respect to making logistical arrangements and in communications with the community.
The community advisory committee included parents of students in the school, school staff, students, parents from feeder schools, and members of the community who do not have children enrolled in the school. Information on the committee’s meetings and resources can be found at on our School Naming Review website at https://www.k12albemarle.org/acps/division/school-naming-review/Pages/Murray-High.aspx.