Survey: Only 16% in favor of Seaman name change

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:16 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - After months of research, meetings, and conversations, Seaman’s Namesake Advisory Committee compiled all of what they learned from the community to help the board make a decision on how to move forward.

Last school year, USD 345 student journalists found evidence that the district’s namesake, Fred Seaman, was a leader within the Ku Klux Klan.

Many called on the school district to change the name.

While others urged them not to do so, saying that the decision would erase history.

The Namesake Advisory Committee was then formed by the district to help the board of education make a decision on how to move forward.

On Monday night, the committee turned in their final report.

It’s a sixteen page document that contains all of the committee’s research and findings.

Over 3,000 people were surveyed on the topic and the study found that 45% of respondents would like the Seaman name to stay the same, while 16.4% would like the name changed.

USD 345 Superintendent, Dr. Steve Noble, says that the board will consider much more than just survey data.

“The board’s work is not done, the board is just getting started with their considerations and survey data is important because its one piece of the overall picture, but it likely won’t be the only thing the board considers.”

34% of those questioned did not answer.

The task force suspects that the number may reflect those who feel their views have already been made clear.

Support for keeping the name was highest among parents with 53% vs. 12% that wanted it to change.

These findings along with other collected information will help the board of education at their upcoming workshop.

“It’s a lot and the board wanted time to actually dive in and have discussions around that work with the namesake committee and some invited guests,” said Dr. Noble. “The workshop is going to look like a focus group of invited folks to come and dive into the report and the supporting documents and just have dialogue around the information that’s contained in the report and those supporting documents.”

The workshop will be held on October 25th.

Dr. Noble says when the decision will be made is entirely up to the board of education.

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