Fairfax County school board votes to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School

In a majority vote, the Fairfax County school board has chosen to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School Thursday night.

The three other names that were under consideration were Colonel Louis G. Mendez Jr. High School, Barbara Rose Johns High School and Stuart High School.

J.E.B. Stuart was a U.S. Army officer who later became a major general for the Confederacy during the Civil War. The debate over the name change has been a contentious one drawing strong and passionate arguments on both sides over the past few months.

Thursday's meeting began at 7 p.m. with discussion and public comment taking place throughout the night. The final vote on the name selection came at around 11:45 p.m.

Many school board members supported the name change to Justice High School, saying it was the best compromise because it honors all three leaders whose names were under consideration.

But those against the name of Justice High School say it goes against the wishes of the majority of students who are supporting Stuart High School as a compromise. The proposal to drop the "J.E.B." portion of the name was suggested in part to help reduce the costs associated with changing the name, which could top $1 million.

"I am for keeping the name Stuart," said one person providing testimony at the meeting. "A few of the many reasons I am against it is because of cost, erasing of history instead of learning from history and the people's vote.

"I go to a school named after a Confederate general - named to specifically target students of color like me," a female Muslim student said. "Why should I tolerate ignorance and injustice that I have done nothing to deserve? Students like my teammates have cried with me and truly embody the spirit of justice, which is why Justice High School truly represents our school."

The board voted in favor of changing the school's name back in July.

The official name change is expected to happen before the start of the 2019 school year.