Tempe Elementary District renames 3 schools after KKK ties to original names uncovered

The Tempe Elementary Governing Board voted June 22 to change the names of Gililland Middle School, Hudson Elementary and Laird School because their namesakes are believed to have had ties to the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century. Laird School (above) becomes Cecil Shamley School. — Tempe Elementary School District photos

Students at three Tempe Elementary School District properties will return to familiar buildings in a few weeks, but while their surroundings will be familiar, the names of their schools will not.

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The Tempe Elementary Governing Board voted June 22 to change the names of Gililland Middle School, Hudson Elementary and Laird School because their namesakes are believed to have had ties to the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century.

Those namesakes all were prominent residents of Tempe who played key roles in the city’s and the school district’s history. Some Tempe streets and parks also are named after people with suspected Klan ties based on Tempe History Museum research. The city is in the process of changing those names.

And while there had been no issue expressed over those names for nearly a century, that changed last year when the history museum dug up information that might have linked those public figures to the Klan.

Gililland Middle School becomes Geneva Epps Mosley Middle School.

Gililland Middle School becomes Geneva Epps Mosley Middle School. Gililland was named for Clyde H. Gililland, a former Tempe mayor and City Council member for three decades. Mosley was employed in Tempe Elementary at various schools from 1960 to 1989. She is believed to be the first African American teacher at Gililland. She was a substitute teacher until age 80 and still lives in Tempe.

Hudson Elementary becomes Joseph Spracale Elementary School. Hudson initially was named for Estmer W. Hudson, who developed Pima cotton, which became a major crop in Arizona’s economy. The school was built on property formerly owned by Hudson’s family. Spracale held administrative roles in the school district for 34 years at several schools. He has been a member of Tempe Elementary Impacts Education Foundation since 1991 and is president of the foundation.

Laird School becomes Cecil Shamley School. Laird was named for Hugh E. Laird, who was mayor of Tempe for 14 years and a state Legislator. He owned a pharmacy in downtown Tempe.  Shamley was a district employee for 22 years in administrative roles at several schools and was developer of the Kindergarten Readiness Program at Laird.

When the Tempe History Museum uncovered information linking many prominent figures in the city’s history to the Ku Klux, the information was forwarded to Tempe City Council, which, in turn, alerted Tempe Elementary that some of its schools bore names of some of those figures.

Although the Ku Klux Klan more recently has been known to discriminate against Blacks and Jews, in this area in the early 1900s is was reputed to have focused primarily on anti-Catholic activity, and specifically against Catholic teachers in public schools.

Hudson Elementary becomes Joseph Spracale Elementary School.

Tempe Elementary agreed in January to evaluate the information and look into possibly renaming the three schools.

Informational meetings were conducted in February at Gililland Middle School, Hudson Elementary and Laird School to receive public comment and feedback.

In May, the Tempe Elementary Governing Board unanimously voted to proceed with renaming the schools and began soliciting public input on the proposed new names.

The name recommendations were presented to the Governing Board on June 8.

After two more weeks of public input, the board voted June 22 to make the changes, effective for the coming 2022-23 school year.

The Governing Board bypassed the two leaders for renaming based on its public-input solicitations: Joaquin Bustoz (185 responses in favor) and Adolfo Romo (119), both far ahead of third-place Shamley (89).  Mosley ranked only fifth on the list (65) and Spracale ranked seventh (27).

Comments

  1. Excuse me… but where do you get your information? I’m only going to focus on Mosley (although I have the info on ALL of them).

    Ms. Mosley got 750 “votes” in the public survey revealed to the public in the meeting of June 8th… and then 65 MORE positive comments by the June 22nd meeting… so… that’s 815 “votes”… except, of course, none of these were “votes” ANYWAY… they were recommendations to the TD3 Governing Board…

    …but if you want to CALL these “votes,” then Mosley “won” by a LANDSLIDE….

    But her “votes” were never “votes”… nor were any of the other pubic comments for any of the others.

  2. If you have the actual count of suggestions what were they.

    Set the record straight here.

    The public deserves to know, Tempe deserves better

    • No problem Mueller Satura. Here they are:

      Geneva Mosley had 823 total recommendations. (These include 750 in writing prior to the June 8th meeting, 5 people speaking on her behalf at the June 8th Meeting, and 68 more written recommendations submitted prior to the meeting of June 22nd) — Gililland Middle School will be named for her.

      Joaquin Bustoz, Jr. had 276 total recommendations. (These include 91 in writing prior to June 8th, no one speaking at EITHER meeting, and 185 more between June 8th and June 22nd.) There was concern raised at the June 22nd meeting regarding confusion since there is alREADY a facility named Juaquin Bustoz (for his parents)… and so, the Board forwarded ideas of combining the names of the facility.

      Cecil Shamley had 153 total recomendations. (These include 63 in writing prior to June 8th, 1 person speaking on his behalf at the June 22nd meeting, and 89 more between June 8th and 22nd.) — Laird School will be named for him.

      Adolfo Romo had 126 total recommendations. (These include 7 in writing prior to June 8th and 119 more between June 8th and 22nd.) — his import to the school district was discussed extensively as he was the man who successfully sued the district in the 1920’s for that district to admit Hispanic students for the first time. The fact that he was “so long ago” troubled certain board members… as he might not serve as enough of a “current person” to inspire the students. It WAS agreed that his name will be explored to apply to SOME facility within the district, even if not a whole school.

      Christine Busch had 85 total recommendations — however, she had a statement read before the board requesting that she have no school named for her.

      Manuela Sanchez Soto had 79 total recommendations — but, similar to Adolfo Romo, there was concern raised that since her contributions were over 80 years old, she might not prove inspirational enough to current students… but, again, like with Romo, she will likely have some other facility named for her.

      Joseph Spracale had 47 total recommendations — Hudson Elementary will be named for him.

      Ralph and Alice Goitia had 12 total recommendations — 3 prior to the June 8th meeting, 8 more submitted between the 8th and the 22nd, and one personal spokesman on his behalf at the June 8th meeting.

      45 other names were submitted for consideration — many of which were not for actual people. “Tempe School” was next after Goitia with 8 recommendations. Below that there was one that got 6 recommendations, three that got 4 recommendations each, five that got 3 recommendations each, seven that got 2 recommendations each, and twenty-eight that had just 1 recommendation each.

      ALL of this is available to be seen using the two Board Meeting YouTube links at the bottom. None of this was kept secret.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TvtHNUA-d0s
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCyEEOLa934

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