WCCUSD Board to consider naming Richmond school after Michelle Obama

WCCUSD Board to consider naming Richmond school after Michelle Obama
Woodrow Wilson Elementary may be renamed after First Lady Michelle Obama (pictured), wife of 44th U.S. President Barack Obama, at a WCCUSD Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo credit: White House)

An ad hoc committee has recommended that the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Board of Education rename Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Richmond after First Lady Michelle Obama.

The recommendation comes after two public hearings to gather input from parents, students and community stakeholders, according to WCCUSD.

The WCCUSD Board of Education will consider the name change at its next meeting on Wednesday.

The idea to rename the school was posed in a letter to the WCCUSD Board by Wilson Elementary PTA President Maisha Cole, who said ongoing reconstruction of the school campus at 42nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue is a good opportunity for a fresh start.

The former Richmond campus that’s currently being rebuilt at 42nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

The school, which currently serves about 430 students in grades K-6, has been operating at a temporary campus in El Cerrito during construction. Its new state-of-the-art Richmond campus is expected to open in time for the 2020-21 school year.

Wilson Elementary is named after the 28th U.S. president, whose pro-segregation acts while as president from 1913 to 1921 have been the subject of scrutiny in recent years on campuses named after him, including Princeton University, where campus buildings bear his name, and Wilson High in Washington D.C.

Cole’s letter states First Lady Michelle Obama, wife of 44th U.S. President Barack Obama, is a more fitting name for the Richmond school.

Wednesday’s board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at DeJean Middle School at 3400 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond.

“If the Board approves the recommendation, it will be the first school in Northern California and the second in the state named after Michelle Obama,” WCCUSD said.

As outlined by WCCUSD Board policy, district facilities can be renamed after individuals who are living or deceased, who have made outstanding contributions to the WCCUSD or the educational community, or who have made contributions of state, national or worldwide significance. Names can also recognize geographic areas in which the school or building is located.