Committee recommends changing name of Virginia elementary school

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WCAV) — The Cale Advisory Committee recommended to Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas on Wednesday evening that Paul H. Cale Elementary School should be renamed.

The decision comes after months of the committee holding public hearings and doing research on Cale and the time period during which he worked as the Albemarle County Schools superintendent, from 1947 to 1969.

Following the announcement, Paul Cale, Jr. spoke in front of a disappointed crowd of family and friends who supported his father.

"The name of the school is not important,” he said. “It's his reputation. The man earned his reputation."

Charles Crenshaw was one of the supporters who stood beside Cale.

"If we can't name a school after Paul Cale,” said Crenshaw. “We can't name a school, building, road, highway, after anybody."

Crenshaw said he was in school when the elder Cale was the superintendent.

The quote that put Paul Cale’s name under scrutiny was found in a 1956 article in Commentary Magazine. The quote read, "White parents would not permit their children to receive instruction from inferior Negro teachers—and they were inferior."

Crenshaw and Cale’s family said this was originally a paraphrase.

"Mr. Cale in the initial paper that that person wrote, it was not in quotes,” said Crenshaw. “So he didn't say it."

Cale's supporters argue that he was not a racist and that the whole thing is a misunderstanding, but Albemarle NAACP President Janette Boyd Martin said that is not their place to say.

"People were quick to say, 'oh, it's not racist,' but are these people that are saying that,” said Martin, “are they really qualified to know what a racist is or what racists' actions are if you've never had it done to you?"

She said renaming the elementary school is the right decision if the Albemarle County School Board wants to continue to uphold its anti-racism policy.

John Gray, the project coordinator of the advisory committee, said even if Cale did not say he was against integration, nothing in their research proved he was for it.

"We couldn't find any record through all of our board minutes and other records that he ever advocated for integration," said Gray.

It was Cale's lack of action that determined their decision.

"The schools weren't fully integrated until 1968, and that was 15 years after the Supreme Court decision,” said Gray. “That was a long time and we consider that as one of the factors."

In a press release, Committee Chair Dennis Rooker said, “Mr. Cale was neither hero nor villain.”

The press release also states that the research showed the writer of the 1956 article in question, James Rorty, was an accomplished author and Commentary Magazine remains a reputable source.

“This is not about Paul Cale, however,” said Rooker. “This is about present and future students, teachers, and other members of the community.”

Haas is expected to announce his decision at an Albemarle County School Board meeting next month. If he also decides to change the name, the advisory committee will then come up with name recommendations.

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