Brea school changes name but keeps part that came under fire for possible ties to KKK

BREA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Brea Olinda Unified School District board voted to change the name of an elementary school, but kept the part that was coming under fire by residents over possible ties to the KKK.

On Monday, a standing-room only crowd filled the school board meeting, prompting several hours of public debate over the name of William E. Fanning Elementary School. The school was named after a former principal and superintendent from the 1930s and 40s.

The name came under fire recently because a group of residents and parents argued that Fanning was associated with the Ku Klux Klan. They pushed for the school's name to be changed.

But Brea historians researched the allegations for months and found no such ties to Fanning.

At the end of the meeting, the board chose to rename the school Fanning Academy of Science and Technology.

The grandson of Fanning, also named William Fanning, said he's fought hard to defend his family's reputation.

"We're delighted with the board's outcome tonight. We think it's fair and reasonable, and looking forward, we think it should be all about the children and the school and the district," he said.

But other residents disagreed.

"They did not change the name. They kept the name Fanning, and they called it a compromise because they also put an option of William E. Fanning - but they kept the name," Sylvia Poareo said.
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