Sac City Unified Board of Education Votes to Rename Three Schools
New names will be Miwok Middle School, Suy:u Elementary, and Umoja International Academy
Sacramento, CA - As part of Sac City Unified’s commitment to confront and interrupt racism and create safe learning environments that are welcoming, inclusive, and inspiring places for all students and staff, the SCUSD Board of Education voted at the June 22, 2023 meeting to rename three schools as Miwok Middle School (formerly Sutter Middle School), Suy:u Elementary School (formerly Peter Burnett Elementary School), and Umoja International Academy (formerly Kit Carson International Academy). The work to rebrand these school facilities will begin this summer and students will return in the fall to schools with these new names.
In the Fall of 2020, SCUSD identified schools in the district that were originally named for individuals who history has confirmed engaged in, perpetuated, and/or condoned racism, oppression, colonization and exclusion of others, even genocide. SCUSD has made a commitment to address school facility names that do not support the District’s values. The District will look at opportunities to address additional school names and mascots that glorify racist historical figures and symbology now that the renaming process for these three schools is complete.
A School Renaming Committee was appointed by the SCUSD Board of Education in the Fall of 2020 and was composed of one-third Native American voices, one-third administrators and staff, and one-third of Board-appointed community members. The Committee was specifically designed to incorporate community voices from throughout the District and to uplift the native voice since Peter Burnett, John Sutter and Kit Carson led the systematic killing and enslavement of large numbers of California native peoples. The work of this committee was delayed due to pandemic related school closures and mitigation policies, but they were able to convene fully during the 2022-23 school year for six meetings.
One parameter for the committee was to avoid renaming these schools after an individual. The school names recommended by the committee to the Board of Education were:
Miwok Middle School is the new name for Sutter Middle
School. Sutter Middle School has been a focal point
for the Native American community in the Sacramento region due
to the extreme brutality their communities experienced at the
hands of John Sutter and his followers. Committee members
recommended Miwok Middle School as restorative to the Miwok
people who were the inhabitants of our region when the
Europeans came to California.
Suy:u Elementary is the new name for Peter
Burnett. Suy:u (pronounced “suu you”) is the Miwok
name for hawk. Peter Burnett site leadership engaged their
students, communities and staff to gather recommendations that
the principal brought forward to the committee for their
consideration. One of those names recommended by the community
was Red Tail Hawk Elementary, and the Committee selected that
name, but recommended the site use the Miwok name for Hawk
- Umoja International Academy is the new name for Kit Carson. Umoja is the first principle of Kwanzaa and means to strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
“All students deserve to learn in a school that is welcoming inside and out,” said Chinua Rhodes, SCUSD Board President. “The rebranding of three schools in our district will help us live up to this aspiration. I appreciate the school name selection committee’s extensive work to research appropriate options and recommend these inspiring new names for our schools.”
“Our school sites sit on indigenous land. It is our duty to build inclusive and welcoming schools, and in many ways, that begins with the name,” said Jasjit Singh, SCUSD Board Member. “I am thankful to everyone that worked with our community to bring forth these renaming efforts. In honor of our indigenous community, I enthusiastically applaud the new names for these three schools and look forward to welcoming students to Miwok Middle School, Suy:u Elementary, and Umoja International Academy next fall.”
“Renaming these schools is a restorative process that promotes inclusivity and celebrates diversity,” said Jamee Villa, SCUSD Board Member. “This positive step will help Sac City Unified students and families learn more about cultures, communities, and history that inspired the selection of these new school names.”
“Sac City Unified’s commitment to provide a quality education means we can no longer continue to perpetuate historical narratives that are shameful when held to scrutiny,” said Jorge A. Aguilar, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District. “I am proud of the work that our district has done hand-in-hand with our community to better educate the public about why these name changes are needed. It is my hope that this action is found to be restorative, and the new identities of Miwok, Suy:u, and Umoja schools will be universally embraced by our students and families when they return this fall.”
“The importance of renaming Sutter Middle School after the Miwok tribe is significant in its restorative power to begin a new chapter of recognition of past harms to this specific tribe and the Native children, parents and staff who are part of the current SCUSD community,” said Emily Mizokami, SCUSD School Renaming Committee Member. “It has been rewarding to be a member of this committee and to see the board’s passion and commitment to include the Native American voice in the process and begin a healing path forward.”
The Board previously adopted revisions to the Naming of Facilities policy (BP 7310) on December 15, 2022 in order to better align the policy with best practices and provide the renaming process with improved policy guidelines based on those best practices. This policy allows for the naming for facilities after individuals whose “primary legacy” aligns with the District’s mission and vision; geographic areas, landmarks, cultural events, or historic events; flora and fauna within our region; and other criteria such as an academic focus or other.