After discovering several elementary schools had been named for Tempe figures with ties to a local KKK chapter, the Tempe Elementary School District has officially settled on new names for three of its schools.
The district's governing board announced on June 22 that it had selected new names for Hudson Elementary, Gililland Middle School and Laird School after community members were invited to submit name ideas several months ago.
Gililland Middle School will soon be known as Geneva Epps Mosley Middle School, Hudson Elementary will be named Joseph Spracale Elementary School and Laird School will be named Cecil Shamley School.
The schools will continue to be named for people important to Tempe's history.
Geneva Epps Mosley worked for the district as a teacher at various schools. She is considered the first Black teacher to teach at Gililland Middle School, which will now be named in her honor. She still lives in Tempe after retiring from teaching, according to the district.
Joseph Spracale also worked for the district for over 30 years in various schools and capacities, eventually becoming a pricipal. He is also a member of the Tempe Elementary Impacts Education Foundation and serves as its current president.
Cecil Shamley worked in the district in various positions from 1959 to 1981, also serving as a principal, and reportedly developed the Kindergarten Readiness Program at what is currently known as Laird School.
The school district first announced the name's ties to the KKK in October 2021 and announced its intentions to change the names in light of the discovery. Informational meetings were held at the schools on Feb. 17 and 24 and name recomendations were presented to the governing board on June 8.
The Tempe City Council has similarly recommended renaming of several city parks and streets named for members of the local KKK chapter thanks to resarch from the Tempe History Museum staff using records from the Arizona Historical Society and Phoenix Public Library. The council is expected to hold public meetings on the topic in the coming months.