River Hill favored name for new high school School board gets recommendation


Howard County's newest high school, still under construction, will be named River Hill if the school board follows a staff recommendation at today's Board of Education meeting.

The board is scheduled to vote on the name of the Trotter Road school, which is scheduled to open next year to house Wilde Lake High School students. Wilde Lake will close at the end of this school year for two years for major renovations.

The board also is to hear a proposal to codify a standard of conduct for school employees. That proposal would make it a violation for employees to harass or defame an individual based on that individual's gender, religion or socioeconomic status, among other categories.

If the high school name proposal is approved, River Hill would bear the name of Columbia's 10th and last village, now being developed in the western part of the county.

The name also describes the location of the school on Columbia's highest point, overlooking the Patuxent River, according to Bill Grau, the system's site planner.

"I think it's an appropriate name," Mr. Grau said. "That's also going to be the name of the community that's going to be around it."

A committee of parents, students and staff members picked the name from 10 that also included Patuxent River, Clark, Trotter Ridge and Trotter Run.

Though River Hill attracted the most votes, some committee members had lobbied for the name Clarksville High School, a name educators rejected to avoid confusion with Clarksville elementary and middle schools.

"I really don't like 'River Hill,' " said Nancy Draughon, a Clarksville resident. "Clarksville is being consumed by Columbia's last village. It's been here for so long, it's a shame to have such a major thing [the high school] taken away from Clarksville."

Mrs. Draughon, past president of Clarksville Elementary School, also had lobbied for the name Western High School.

"We don't have any by that name, and the school is in the western part of the county," she said.

Many people have assumed that Western High School already was the name of the school, she said, because educators have used that term in referring to the building, for lack of a better description.

In addition to voting on the name of the new school, the board also will hear a proposal for a "Professional Responsibility of Employees Policy." The policy would make it a violation for school employees to threaten, assault or engage in acts of violence against other staffers, community members or students.

It also would make it a violation for employees to harass or defame anyone based on race, sex, religion, physical or mental disability, national origin, cultural identity, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

The proposal is similar to the system's "Educational and Personal Rights Policy," which makes it a violation for students to harass, defame, curse, threaten or intimidate other students on the basis of race, color, religion, physical or mental disability and so on.

Employees who violate the proposed policy would be required to undergo counseling in cases where dismissal is not recommended.

The board will conduct a hearing Nov. 23, and it will vote on the proposal Dec. 9.

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