Name game

A number of the valley’s military families believe the naming of Cimarron-Memorial High School was an insufficient tribute to Southern Nevada veterans. So a few dozen of them attended Monday’s meeting of the Clark County School District’s naming committee with hopes of persuading its members to designate a new southwest valley campus Veterans Memorial High School.

Among those in attendance was Rachel Bravo, whose 21-year-old brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Raul S. Bravo, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq earlier this year. “He was doing exactly what he loved,” Ms. Bravo said. “We should all be so lucky.”

They were rebuffed. The committee’s members said school district policy prohibited them from naming a high school after anything other than the “locality or region” of the campus. So the panel applied the moniker of Desert Oasis High School on the recommendation of about 15 students.

However, the appointed members of the naming committee voted to change the school district’s policy to allow high schools to be named after “cultural or historical” events or groups. For the revised policy to take effect, the naming committee must approve it again next month, then the elected members of the School Board would have to OK it.

The machinations of this particular bureaucracy would not be noteworthy but for one simple fact: the school district’s naming policies are ridiculous.

This committee rejected a name that honors soldiers who’ve paid the ultimate price and graces at least a dozen high schools across the country in favor of a “regional” identification that defies logic. The area that surrounds the school site, south of Rainbow Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway, is no oasis.

Meanwhile, the committee goes on slapping the names of the living on nearly every elementary and middle school in the valley, stroking politicians and campaign donors despite the fact that any one of them might one day embarrass themselves — and an entire campus — with unethical or illegal behavior. Textbook example No. 1: tearing down Madison Elementary School and renaming the new building in 2000 after Assemblyman Wendell Williams despite the fact that he owed $52,000 in child support.

Over the next few years, Mr. Williams famously self-destructed in a blur of arrogance and deception, losing his patronage job with the city of Las Vegas and his seat in the Legislature. Meanwhile, the elementary school on J Street still bears his name.

The school district could simplify this morass by boiling down its naming policy to two simple rules: use a little common sense and, when applying a person’s name to a campus, do so posthumously.

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