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Hanover County School Board ‘discussing resolutions’ to NAACP lawsuit

Posted at 10:06 PM, Nov 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-12 23:39:13-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The Hanover County School Board will meet next week to discuss a possible resolution to a lawsuit filed against them by the Hanover County Unit of the NAACP.

In August, the NAACP sued Hanover County and the School Board seeking to change the names and mascots of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The lawsuit alleges that students who attend Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School are being denied an equal opportunity to an education free of compelled speech, a violation of students' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

In response to the lawsuit, Hanover County and the Hanover County School Board in September separately filed answers to the 150 complaints named in the lawsuit.

The responses consisted of several denials to the allegations, only admitting to facts involving both schools, including that they were named for prominent members of the Confederacy and that Lee-Davis was built in a time period prior to integration.

The lawsuit against Hanover County has been dismissed and the School Board is now the sole defendant in this case.

A press release stated that "the School Board is carefully and thoughtfully evaluating a variety of factors in its consideration of a possible resolution of the lawsuit."

The release details that if the School Board decides to resolve the matter, it will cost an estimated $495,000 to change the names and mascots at Lee-Davis and Stonewall Jackson. Moreover, if the School Board decides to continue the litigation, they will incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs defending the lawsuit. Litigation with appeals would likely last a minimum of two years.

The Board also stated that if the NAACP prevails in the lawsuit, they could be responsible for the NAACP’s legal fees, which are expected to be several million dollars. They also point out that regardless of whether the lawsuit is resolved, Lee-Davis and Stonewall Jackson will eventually be replaced as part of the School Board’s long-term facilities planning, and will be renamed pursuant to existing School Board Policy.