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Appleton to rename school in honor of Ron Dunlap

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - An Appleton school is getting a new name in honor of longtime educator and former principal Ron Dunlap.

He’s the first African-American to receive the honor in the district and possibly the state.

The school board voted Monday night to approve the change by a 4-3 margin.

After months of discussion, and a policy change allowing the district to rename existing schools, Ron Dunlap’s widow, Yvette, went before the school board once again asking them to honor her husband.

“The role Ron assumed was not easy. Being a ground breaker never is,” she said.

Dunlap was known as a community leader in promoting diversity, with a motto of dignity and respect.

She continued, saying, “Ron was proud of the 30 years he spent here, and today on the 20th month anniversary of his death he would be humbled, honored, and privileged by the recognition this group has given him.”

A recent survey conducted by the district showed the public to be almost split on whether to rename the school, but at least two-thirds who live within the Lincoln school boundary favored the change.

“Of all of our schools, 17 have been named after famous figures, one Hispanic. All 16 of the remaining 16, all white, male or female. Yet, the district does not fit that demographic profile at all,” said Appleton Area School Board Member Jim Bowman.

Some supported honoring Dunlap but in other ways.

“In my opinion, there is no compelling reason to remove a name from a school,” said Appleton Area School Board Member Deb Truyman, adding, “You can’t rename all history to the current moment.”

Still, a majority of the board voted to move forward, so the school will now be called Ron Dunlap Elementary, home of the Lincoln Lions.

”We all know who Ron was. We know the quality of his character, and we know what he left us,” added Yvette Dunlap.

District officials will begin working immediately on a timeline for the name change, and expect to provide an update on when it could take place soon.

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