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School Board renames two area schools

Plain Press, August 2022        At its June 28th meeting, the Cleveland Municipal School District Board of Education voted to change the names of two schools in the Plain Press service area. Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy will be renamed Natividad Pagan International Newcomers Academy. Louis Agassiz School will be renamed Mary Church Terrell School. The name changes will be effective at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

     The Pre-k to Grade 12 school Natividad Pagan International Newcomers Academy is located at 3145 W. 46th Street, just south of Clark Avenue.

     Mary Church Terrell School, a pre-K – Grade 8 school, is located at 3595 Bosworth Road.

     The recommendation for the new names came as the result meetings held by the School Naming Ad Hoc Work Group with the Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers community and the Louis Agassiz School community.

     The Board of Education resolution notes that “Natividad Pagan was an educator, administrator, and community leader in Cleveland, and served the Cleveland Municipal School District as Executive Director of Multilingual Education and as principal of Joseph M. Gallagher School and Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy.”

     The resolution notes that “Mary Church Terrell was an internationally known lecturer, educator and activist for racial equality and women’s rights from the late 19th century through the mid 20th century, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oberlin College, and taught at Wilberforce College.”

     The School Naming Ad Hoc Group was tasked with reviewing school names to eliminate names whose namesakes held racist views or participated in the ownership of slaves.

     According to Wikipedia, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, was an owner of slaves. It is estimated that he owned over 600 slaves during his lifetime. Jefferson fathered children with a slave named Sally Hemings. He also was involved in initiating the policy of Indian tribal removal from territories newly acquired by the United States.

                  According to a University of California Museum of Paleontology article on Louis Agassiz, Agassiz held racist attitudes and held the belief that non-white humans were inferior to whites.

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