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Tempe district picks new names for schools named after KKK members

The three schools will be named after former educators who had each taught at various schools in the Tempe district.

TEMPE, Ariz. — Editor's Note: The above video is from an earlier broadcast.

The Tempe Elementary School District has picked the new names for three schools that had long held the names of men who belonged to local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan. 

On Wednesday, the district's school board voted to officially change the names of Hudson Elementary, Gililland Middle School, and Laird School.

Last year, Tempe acknowledged that several of its landmarks around the city held the names of men who had belonged to the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan called Butte Klan No. 3. 

This local chapter of the KKK was mainly focused on "anti-Catholic activity, and specifically against Catholic teachers in public schools," according to the district.

A century ago, it was not uncommon for members of the KKK to hold respected titles in Arizona. In the 1920s, the Maricopa County Attorney, Maricopa County sheriff, mayor of Phoenix, and mayor of Tempe all were revealed to be members of the KKK.  

RELATED: How you can help rename 3 Tempe schools named after KKK members

As a result, the district began vetting through hundreds of submissions made for new school names and the district's board made its final decision this week. 

Starting in the 2022-2023 school year:

  • Gililland Middle School will be named Geneva Epps Mosley Middle School
  • Hudson Elementary School will be named Joseph Spracale Elementary School
  • Laird School will be named Cecil Shamley School

According to the district, Geneva Epps Mosley was one of the first Black teachers at Gililland Middle School and taught in the district for 30 years. She's still a resident of Tempe. 

Joseph Spracale spent 34 years working as a teacher and administrator at various schools in the Tempe district. He was later president of the Tempe Elementary Impacts Education Foundation. 

Cecil Shamley taught for 22 years in the district and is credited with developing Laird's kindergarten readiness program. Shamley died at 51 from Lou Gehrig's disease.

The school district said it may take some time to update all the signage at the three campuses. But old trophies, awards, and other historic school symbols will be preserved in their original form.

RELATED: 3 schools named after KKK members, Tempe historical records show

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