In response to public outcry, the Milford Board of Education invited district residents to voice their opinions regarding the board’s abrupt decision to add a campus name to the high school.
After a presentation by Rep. Harvey Kenton (R-Milford) and Tom Draper during the board’s regular Oct. 28 meeting, the board unanimously voted to add a campus name to the high school property, honoring Milfordian and the youngest person to serve on the Delaware Supreme Court, Justice Randy J. Holland, by naming it Milford High School Justice Randy J. Holland Campus.
Shortly after the board’s decision was made public, outcry in the form of an online petition group, as well as emails and phone calls to the superintendent’s office spurred the board to schedule a special public meeting on Nov. 12 to rescind the vote and receive public input.
During that special meeting, the board unanimously agreed to rescind its vote to add a campus name.
Milford School District Superintendent Phyllis Kohel took responsibility for any miscommunication, stating that the Oct. 28 agenda should have reflected the nature of Kenton and Draper’s presentation and the intent to move forward with a vote on the issue.
“We regret the frustration that the decision might have caused,” she said to the crowd in the gymnasium, which only filled a fraction of allotted seats.
Those members of the public who voiced their concern regarding the campus name change expressed concern over the process, rather than the person.
“I agree with what you’re trying to do, because I know you’re just trying to better the school, but we should be able to vote,” said Julia Keesic, a sophomore at Milford High School. “We should have the right to vote on the name change. We are going to represent the school academically and athletically, so we should have the right to vote on the name change for the campus or for anything for our school.”
Board of Education President Marvin Schelhouse said that while in the past the district has not had any issues with dedicating areas to prominent Milfordians, the current plan is now to establish a committee comprised of Milford residents and district employees to establish a policy regarding name dedications within the district.
“It’s very evident we need a board policy that addresses this,” Schelhouse said. “I was glad to see people coming out to voice their opinion. We needed to do what we did tonight.”
Schelhouse said it will be a long process in establishing a committee, choosing and voting in members, and then writing a policy. It will be at least several months until the issue of a campus name change is again presented for a vote, he said.