Dixie School District's board members voted on April 16, 2019 to change their system's debatable name.

Jeffrey Schaub/KCBS Radio

Dixie School District Will Shed Its Debatable Name

Megan Goldsby
April 17, 2019 - 8:41 am

SAN RAFAEL — The board members for the Dixie School District here in Marin have voted to change their school system's name after months of contentious arguing about its meaning

Board members voted 3 to 1 in favor of ditching the name the district has held since its founding in 1864 with one member abstaining from the decision. They did not pick a replacement yet. 

The push to rename Dixie began in 1997 through the effort of Kerry Peirson, who disapproved of its connection to the Confederacy. A renewed effort gained momentum this year. 

"There's no more right today than there was then," said Peirson. "I don't know what has taken it so long." 

The board had seemed reluctant to tackle the issue and there were continual hints of infighting. 

Related: Marin School District Can't Decide What To Do With Name 'That's Rooted In Hate'

Before the vote on Tuesday night, there were hours of discussion about the name's origins. The restless, packed crowd burst into yelling at times. 

Opponents argue that it was directly inspired by the Southern slave-owning states. Supporters who've tried preserving it have claimed that the district's founder dubbed it Dixie to honor a local woman with that surname. 

The cost of replacing the name on everything from signs to janitorial uniforms also factored into the debate. 

One woman told the board to retain its original name because diversity is already taught in schools. 

"They don't see color anymore, okay?" she said, during the public comment period. "So, we're making this bigger for them than it is."

One student from Dixie Elementary School, however, disagreed.

"You know this is a racist name, change it" the girl said. "You've been dragging this out far longer than it should have been. I'm hoping I can go back to school next fall proud of our new school district name."

The new name will be selected before August 22, the first day of classes.