Milford’s school board is asking for a do-over after an abrupt vote to add a campus name to Milford High School drew the ire of several local residents and alumni.
The board voted unanimously to add Justice Randy J. Holland Campus to Milford High School’s property during its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 28 following a presentation by Rep. Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) and Tom Draper, who spearheaded the effort to recognize the Milfordian, who is known as the youngest person to serve on the Delaware Supreme Court.
Public outcry came in the form of emails and phone calls to the superintendent after local media reported the name alteration. Public input has resulted in the board’s reported decision to rescind their vote at the beginning of a special public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. in the Milford Middle School Board Room.
School Board President Marvin Schelhouse said the original decision to alter the campus name was made after a recommendation to recognize Holland for his accomplishments in the field of law.
“He certainly has made his mark and is considered one of the more notable personalities that came out of Milford over the years,” Schelhouse said. “But we’re not renaming the high school, it will still be Milford High School. That’s a misconception by a lot of people. Just the campus would be named after him.”
Schelhouse said the board realized that some community members were not happy with the board’s decision.
“There are community people that were not happy with the decision and they wanted input into that decision, so we scheduled a meeting to let them voice their opinions on it and we’ll go from there,” Schelhouse said. “We want to bring some resolution to it and make everybody happy about it.”
Shortly after the board’s original vote was made public, a Facebook group initiated by Milford alumni Trisha Marney gained more than 700 members in a 24-hour period, protesting the board’s decision to alter the name of the high school campus without any public input.
Marney said it is more the lack of transparency that has her upset than the board’s choice to pay tribute to Holland specifically.
“It wasn’t just me, it was a matter of several people saying they don’t agree with this; let’s do something about it,” Marney said. “It’s more of a lack of transparency than the name. It has absolutely nothing to do with Justice Holland, he’s a well-rounded many and we’re lucky to have him as a Milford High School graduate. But it’s a public building, all of our tax dollars are going to pay for that building. So we should have a say in what the name is.”
Page 2 of 2 - Marney recalled receiving notice for public input regarding the naming of Mispillion Elementary School and wondered why the same wasn’t done for the name alteration of the high school campus.
“The public interest should never be an afterthought,” Marney said regarding the board’s planned decision to rescind the vote.
Superintendent Phyllis Kohel said the board has had a lot of discussions based on what happened in last month’s meeting and the public’s right to address the board, which led to scheduling a special public meeting next week.
“I felt that, as did the board, that the best thing to do is that the board is going to start the meeting by rescinding their vote. They will allow public input from both sides of that topic and then take their time with discussing it and deciding whether or not they want to revote on that issue,” Kohel explained. “Most importantly, the board wants to give our community the opportunity to voice their opinions and deliver any input that they have regarding adding a campus name to Milford High School.”