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Duval County School Board holding special meeting to consider name of Forrest High

7:11 AM, Dec 16, 2013   |    comments
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Update 12/16/13 7:15 p.m.:  The Duval County School board unanimously votes to change the name of Nathan B. Forrest High School. Superintendent Nikolai Vitti wants the students to decide on a new name, which could go up for a vote during the January meeting.

Possible suggestions for the name are Westside High or Firestone High. The new name will officially change in July 2014.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A longstanding controversy on Jacksonville's Westside may come to an end Monday.

For decades, people have complained about the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School on Firestone Road.

Forrest was a Confederate General in the Civil War, but he was also the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

People have argued the name is outdated and offensive for a school that has a large number of African-American students. Others contend the name honors Southern heritage and history and should be left alone.

Most recently, the issue was reignited by an online petition for a new name that garnered hundreds of thousands of signatures of support.

Now, after months of debate and public input, the Duval County School Board is having a special meeting to vote on the school's name.

The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Cline Auditorium at school district headquarters, which is located at 1701 Prudential Drive.

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti has said a name change would cost about $500,000, as signage and other materials at the school would all have to be replaced.

Community groups who support a new name have told the district they are willing to cover the costs.

A previous attempt to change the school's name was struck down by the school board in 2007.

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