San Jose Unified School District Renames School ‘Ohlone Middle School'

After a months-long process, the San Jose Unified School District has a newly-named school.

The board decided to rename Burnett Academy Thursday, now called Ohlone Middle School.

Several members of the Ohlone tribe dressed in red to address the school board and after some public comment, it didn’t take long for members to make their decision.

The San Jose Unified School District is the latest in California to scratch Peter Burnett’s name, and his difficult history, from its schools.

Burnett was the first-elected California governor when it entered the United States, but he has a painfully racist past.

His government started a cruel campaign to eradicate Native Maericans. So, Thursday’s vote to rename the school after the Ohlone Tribe is a big deal.

"He, not only him, but others, you know, prosecuted our people. So, yes, to have our name replace his, it’s powerful," said Ohlone Tribe Chairperson Charlene Nijmeh.

Three names were considered, amonth them Sofia Mendoza Middle School, in honor of a local Chicana trail blazer of the 70s and 80s.

Supporters of that name voiced their support for the new Ohlone name.

"I think it’s very appropriate, I call myself Chicano and Chicano’s and Native People are very much, one in the same," said Karl Soltero from La Raza Historical Society.

For members of the Ohlone Tribe, it’s important that their name is now on a school.

"Just the fact that they see Ohlone, you know, now we have mobile devices, Google it and they’ll be able to see who we are," Ohlone Tribe Member Julie Domiguez said.

Earlier this year, staff and students at the now former Burnett Academy spearheaded the effort to change the name of the middle school.

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