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New Haven School Board to Rename Christopher Columbus School, Replace Holiday

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The New Haven School Board has voted to take major steps when it comes to Christopher Columbus.

It decided to rename the Christopher Columbus Family Academy in the Fair Haven neighborhood and replace Columbus Day on the school calendar with Indigenous Peoples Day.

“I plan on supporting this motion tonight because I think it is a strong statement,” said New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker.

A new name for the school will be decided at a later point and the issue has been sent to a committee to look into it.

Supporters of the motions believe they had a responsibility to take steps immediately and Columbus should not be someone to be memorialized.

But others thought the process was rushed.

“This is unprecedented making this enormous decision without having a real community discussion about it. During a pandemic, this is just unprecedented and it’s wrong,” said Darnell Goldson, a school board member.

New Haven Police confirm they are investigating a report of a male spraypainting the school’s sign early Saturday morning.

Also, this weekend officers say someone tossed red paint on the Columbus statue in Wooster Square Park during a protest.

“I feel Christopher Columbus as I was growing up was respect. Respect for this country, respect for this world. And for people to deface it, it’s direct disrespect,” said David Maroun of New Britain.

While many have raised concerns about Columbus’ controversial history, others – including Angela Fernicola who was born in Italy – wonder why more Italian Americans don’t defend him.

“You should be here trying to stick up for him. He’s your blood. And no matter what they say he’s done he’s part of you. And he’s part of me,” said Fernicola.

The parks commission has indicated the statue will come down within 60 days and later it will be decided what to do with it.

“We don’t need to live in the past. We need to move forward,” said Chris Gasdell of New Haven.

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