Huntsville schools to ask Alabama attorney general about renaming school named for Robert E. Lee

Published 3:32 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The public school system in Huntsville has agreed to ask Alabama’s attorney general whether it can rename a school honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee without violating a state law meant to protect Confederate memorials and monuments.

News outlets reported that board members during a meeting Tuesday authorized their attorney to seek an opinion about whether such a move would conflict with the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, which carries a $25,000 fine.

Passed in 2017 when rebel monuments were being challenged nationwide, the law prohibits the removal, alteration or renaming of any monument that’s located on public property which has been in place at least 40 years.

Board attorney Chris Pape said Lee High School moved into a new building in 2012, the law shouldn’t apply. But one baseball field remains from the school’s original 1957 location, so the system is asking Attorney General Steve Marshall’s office if “that one piece is enough to make the act apply,” Pape said.

Superintendent Christie Finley announced a proposal to rename the school in June. Huntsville is in Madison County, which paid the $25,000 penalty to the state after removing a Confederate monument from outside the courthouse last year.