Loudoun Co. school board reconsidering naming of school after man with ties to segregation

The name of a new middle school in Loudoun County is under scrutiny after the school board voted to name it after a man who has ties to segregation.

This has upset some community members and disappointed the family of a boy who died from cancer.

Mathias Giordano wasn't here to see it, but friends, family and even strangers signed a petition urging the Loudoun County School Board to name a new middle school in his honor.

"As of last week, we had over 7,600 signatures," said Mathias' mother, Roya.

When the issue came before for the school board earlier this month, Troy Giordano asked them to consider naming the school after his 13-year-old brother.

But the school board made a unanimous decision to name the school after somebody else -- a man named John Ryan.

"I couldn't believe it," said Phillip Thompson, president of the NAACP's Loudoun branch.

He didn't know much about John Ryan, the former speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. But it turns out Ryan helped pass some of Virginia's segregation laws.

"Within 20 to 25 minutes, I said, ‘Did anybody Google this guy?'" said Thompson.

FOX 5 asked for an interview with school board chairman Eric Hornberger. Through a spokeswoman, he refused to discuss it. When we asked if we could speak with another member of the school board, we were told Hornberger speaks for the board.

School board members have said they will now reconsider the naming.

"If this man's policies were still in place, half the children who would probably walk into the school couldn't enter," said Thompson.

Roya Giordano still believes as well.

"I hope that we could inspire the kids that are going to attend that school and their parents to get more involved in the cancer community and to do more and give back, donate blood, register with Be The Match, volunteer," she said.

The kind of things Mathias would have done.