FAIRBANKS — An elementary school in North Pole is getting a new name next year.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Board of Education on Tuesday voted to remove Badger Road Elementary School’s name, effective June 30, 2017.
A committee will be chosen to come up with a new name.
The school is named after a road that is named after Harry M. Badger, a popular strawberry farmer of the 1900s with a criminal past. In 1916, Badger pleaded guilty to raping a 10-year-old girl.
School board members said it’s time to acknowledge the mistake and take the pedophile’s name off the elementary school.
“It’s a great school,” board member Thomas Bartels said. “It’s tough to ignore what we know today.”
Public testimony was mixed. Some said the school has been tarnished by bringing up Badger’s dark past when the school is named after the road, not the man.
Others said removing his name sends a message that what Badger did was wrong.
“This is a small piece of justice for a lot of people who don’t have a voice,” Rose Hewitt testified.
Sean Rice was the only board member to vote against removing the name.
Rice said his three daughters attended the school and he served as president of the PTA.
“Not once have I seen anything that we do out there bring honor to Harry Badger,” Rice said.
Several people testified that Badger’s past wasn’t widely known until school board member Michael O’Brien publicly proposed changing the school’s name.
“I don’t think you understand how much you have hurt the people who work and attend Badger Road Elementary,” said Ken Brown, who teaches third grade there.
“To me, this whole 100-year-old court case is another example of wasting time and energy on something that doesn’t help students get a better education,” he added.
Cheri Renson read some of the names of the dozens of businesses that use “Badger Road” as a part of their names.
“It’s geographical,” Kay Sanders told the school board.
Earnest Kincade disagreed. He suggested keeping Badger’s name on the grammar school would be like sweeping his crime under a rug.
“It’s amazing how we want to forget the past,” he said.
The school board also rejected a proposed new policy for “denaming” schools with members calling it too broad and too vague.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7587. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.