Alumni group attempts to delay name change of St. Paul school

June 18, 2019 06:12 PM

The St. Paul Public Schools Board will consider possibly changing the name of Linwood-Monroe Arts Plus in a meeting Tuesday evening, after a community group raised concerns with the legacy of the school’s namesake, President James Monroe.

The fifth U.S. President, Monroe, as with other earlier leaders in the county, was known for owning slaves.


"We agree with the Monroe school and the parents who are for this that it is a problem," said community organizer Dave Bredemus. “I suspect James Monroe was very little talked about up until now, well it should be, it should be talked about a lot."

Bredemus is part of a Monroe alumni group trying to get the school board to delay action on the name change.

One option the alumni group discussed was possibly keeping the 'Monroe' name but naming it after a different 'Monroe.'

"It's been part of our history out here in West 7th street," said Al Hanzel, Class of 1960. “I didn't even know James Monroe was why the school was named.”

The PTA , school leaders and some in the community have been discussing the issue over the last year to come up with a new name to reflect the school arts focus and diversity.

"I think the name change is necessary, there are a lot of children of color here," said parent Kianna Lilly. "I don't think [Monroe] reflects where we are today-- the neighborhood is different, times are changing." 

The School Name Change Committee held its first meeting in March, according to a post on the school web site.

More from KSTP:

MPRB votes to change name of Lake Calhoun Park to Bde Maka Ska Park

The St. Paul School District said the name before the board is Global Arts Plus. The school principal making the presentation to the board was unavailable for comment.

"This could be an opportunity for the community to come together on different sides of the issue, and come up with a solution that's a win-win for everyone," said Hanzal.

The Monroe alumni group plans to take their concerns directly to the school board on Tuesday, including their 700-signature petition, asking for a delay in the naming process so more voices can be heard.

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Eric Chaloux

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