Following community feedback, TCSS won’t rename school after Brock; Still plans to honor her

Published 6:16 pm Monday, October 10, 2022

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After reviewing feedback from a community survey, The Troup County School Board decided Monday that it will not rename West Point Elementary School after longtime educator Zelma Brock, but TCSS plans to find a way to honor her on the school’s campus.

There was no official vote from the board during Monday’s work session, as a vote was not needed procedurally but all board members present agreed. Board member Brandon Brooks was not at Monday’s meeting.

Superintendent Brian Shumate presented data using a survey software named Thought Exchange, which allowed people to anonymously present their thoughts about possibly renaming the school, then to rate opinions in how much they agreed with them.

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There were 264 participants and 4,113 ratings via Thought Exchange.

The most popular opinions were very appreciative of Brock and her legacy but wanted to keep the name of the school the same. West Point Elementary remains the last standing link to the former West Point School System.

“A vast majority of the ratings were very positive about not renaming the school,” Shumate said. “[Many said] they want to maintain the name of West Point because it identifies with the City of West Point, and the Old West Point school district.”

The discussion about whether or not to rename WPE goes all the way back to the beginning of 2022. In February, the West Point City Council had 350 letters in support of renaming the school after Brock and voted to approve sending a petition to the Troup County School Board.

TCSS held a listening session in June at WPE, when all but one person spoke in favor of the school being named after Brock.

However, Shumate said TCSS privately received emails and other opinions that were not given during the listening session. Therefore, TCSS used Thought Exchange to ensure everyone had a chance to give their opinion.

One of the most popular opinions said the following: “She was a great lady, but the name of West Point is the last remnant of the former West Point School System. Many people who worked in the old system still hold onto that name.”

Board member Allen Simpson and Shumate said during Monday’s meeting that renaming any school after a person would set a precedent. In the past few years, TCSS has moved away from naming schools after people, including when renaming the newest school, Clearview Elementary School.

“I’ve always heard great things about her, and the intentions are very good,” Shumate said. “But that’s a big deal to rename a school that was formerly named after a community after an individual. And so the problem with it is you … create a precedent. And where do you stop? I know we have some other schools that were named after individuals, but the board purposefully chose several years ago not to name Clearview after any one person and to name it after the area of clear view.”