As a matter of pride, Baton Rouge’s Lee High still to be known, unofficially, as Lee Magnet High _lowres

The school board voted to officially shorten the school's name to Lee High School.

Lee High School is set to get a new name this week, with thousands of people making suggestions to East Baton Rouge school district officials.

Two meetings are scheduled to sort it out: one Monday at 6 p.m., the other Thursday at 5 p.m. The goal is to settle on a new name for the prominent Baton Rouge high school, a name with no connection to the Confederacy.

The school’s name has been a flash point for years. From 1959 to 2016, it was named Robert E. Lee High, after the Confederate general. In June 2016, the School Board voted to remove “Robert E.” from the name, but keep the rest.

On June 18 of this year, the board voted unanimously to go further and remove Lee from the school name in favor of a name still to be determined.

The Lee High Renaming Committee is set to meet Monday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Professional Development Center, 3000 N. Sherwood Forest Drive. The 13 committee members plan to go through the names suggested so far as well as any suggested Monday and settle that night on three recommended names.

Superintendent Warren Drake will then pick one from those three to present to the School Board for a final vote at its meeting Thursday at 5 p.m., also at the Professional Development Center. And like Monday’s meeting, the public will be able that night to offer even more name suggestions.

The goal is to get a new name for the high school in time for the start of the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 6.

In 2016, a similar renaming committee offered three suggestions for Lee High, none of which were adopted: Lee Magnet High, Harper Lee Magnet High and Southdowns Magnet High. The public offered many more suggestions back then, including Red Stick High, River City High, as well Edwin Hubble High and Albert Einstein High.

At that time, Lee Magnet High was the favorite choice of many students, staff and parents at the school, partly to place the newly rebuilt school on a par with the other dedicated magnet high school in town, Baton Rouge Magnet High.

The board, however, resisted, largely because of the $250,000-plus cost of adding the word “Magnet” to the school’s name, especially to the large nameplate that adorns its Commons Building. Promoters of the school, however, have largely ignored the official name of Lee High in favor of “Lee Magnet High.” That’s evident from the school’s website, its promotional literature, even its Wikipedia page, all of which proclaim the school’s name as Lee Magnet High.

The estimated renaming costs today are similar to what they were then. At least one group, New Schools for Baton Rouge, pledged last month to “offer funds to replace the school’s exterior signage,” but it’s unclear how much of the total tab that would cover. Meanwhile, the private Foundation for East Baton Rouge School System has set up a special webpage to raise money for the effort.

Members of the Lee High Renaming Committee include School Board President Mike Gaudet, whose district includes Lee High, and board member Dadrius Lanus, who revived the issue on June 9 when he requested the school be renamed.

Three committee members are Lee High staffers: Assistant Principal Shawona Ross, Athletic Director Brandon White and math teacher Aaron Angel. Three more are Lee High students; the school system has yet to release their names.

The five remaining individuals named to the community are listed as community members: Lyla DeBlieux, Corey Delahoussaye, Cleve Dunn Jr., Walter “Geno” McLaughlin and Mary Mikell.


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com.