Citizens suggest names for ACPS district office 

Alachua County Public Schools district office admin building
Photo by Seth Johnson

A committee for renaming of the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) District Office had its first unofficial meeting on Thursday. The group heard suggestions from three community members and received some details from its district facilitator.  

So far, an online form open to name suggestions has collected 109 responses. Facilitator Wanza Wakeley said 60 of those came within the first 24 hours that the form was open. 

Wakeley told the group that it can convene for its first official meeting after July 5, when the 45-day window for public input has closed. Though each member of the School Board of Alachua County could select two members for the committee, the Alachua County NAACP and Alachua County Education Association also get to appoint one member each. 

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At least one parent must also sit on the committee, but Rev. Ronald Rawls fills that requirement. The board is also to include a historian, to be appointed by the superintendent. 

Wakeley said committee members will also be allowed to suggest names for the district office, and that there will be no time limit on the committee’s selection process after the 45-day public input period closes. 

Only three citizens spoke at Thursday night’s meeting to suggest names. 

A rising senior at Gainesville High School, Charity Camps, suggested the district office be renamed for her great-grandfather, Titus J. Harper. Harper, who taught at Lincoln High School until it closed in 1963 and served as the first Black dean of students at GHS, died in 2016. 

Community activist and former ACPS employee Burt Wetherington suggested John Dukes, Jr., Eastside High School’s first principal. Dukes, who died in 2007, spent 50 years with the district before retiring as deputy superintendent. 

Staci Bertrand called in to the meeting to suggest the name of her late husband, Abijah Bertrand. Bertrand was a teacher and an advocate for people with mental disabilities. In 2019, the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce presented him with the Spirit of Greater Gainesville award. He died later that year after an accident. 

The committee is to hold one more unofficial meeting for public input at 6 p.m. on June 27. 

Board policy requires that a proposed name should either be “descriptive of the geographical area in which the facility is located” or named in honor of a deceased person who has “made a significant contribution to the enhancement of education generally or the District in particular or to the well-being of the local, national, or international community.” 

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