A member of the Trump administration may have his name stripped from a school in Detroit — though not because of politics.
The Detroit school board will consider on Tuesday night a recommendation that would bar naming schools after living people. If approved, the measure would give the district the option of renaming several schools in the city that are already named for living people. Among them is the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine.
The school, located in Detroit’s midtown neighborhood near the Detroit Medical Center, opened in 2011 to serve students from around the city who are interested in pursuing health professions.
It is named after Dr. Benjamin Carson, a native Detroiter who made a name for himself as a brain surgeon before entering politics, running for president, and eventually accepting a role in the Trump administration. He’s currently Trump’s secretary of housing and urban development.
The board plans to debate the policy on Tuesday night before a planned vote at the January meeting.
“When you name a school after a living person whose life is incomplete, sometimes they disappoint you,” said LaMar Lemmons, a school board member. “You may not want to have a school named after that person.”
Another school that could get a name change if the board moves the issue to a final vote is the Bates Academy, which is named after Alonzo Bates, a former school board member and city councilman. He was convicted of five felonies, including theft from a program receiving federal funds.
“Naming a school after someone is to really speak to and honor their legacy, and it’s really difficult to know a complete legacy of a person until after they’ve passed,” said Misha Stallworth, a board member. “We really want to make sure that the names of schools reflect the values of the district and the community.”
Lemmons said the board also plans to review names that were given to schools during the years when the district was controlled by state-appointed emergency managers. That includes Palmer Park Academy, which had been the Barbara Jordan Elementary School, and East English Village High School, which replaced Finney High School on the city’s east side.
Lemmons said he’d also like the board to discuss changing the names of schools that are named after “former holders of enslaved persons.”
Lemmons acknowledged that, in a city home primarily to Democrats, Carson’s status as a powerful Republican could come into play.
“Quite frankly, it is a political thing,” Lemmons said. “We named a school after an individual who is in the Trump administration.”
The principal of the school, Charles Todd, did not respond to request for comment, but has said in the past that Ben Carson has generously contributed to the school. It’s unclear what impact the change of the name will have on his relationship with the school.
A spokesman for Carson did not respond to a request for comment.
Correction: This story was changed to say that the proposed provision barring naming schools after living people would not require changing the names of existing schools. Instead, it would give the Detroit board the option of changing names.