Norwalk-La Mirada school board votes down proposal to rename Excelsior High School auditorium

NORWALK – In a controversial split vote, The Norwalk – La Mirada Unified School District Board of Education voted to install a plaque in the Excelsior High School Auditorium to honor former educator Lee Mitchell.

This is not the first time that the Board has tackled this controversial topic. At their prior meeting, the Board was unable to come to a decision and instead directed staff to come up with several other options to consider.

Those options included the renaming of the building, making the auditorium a dual name facility, and the addition of a plaque in Mitchell’s honor.   

Several community members came out to witness the decision, with three stepping forward to address the school board on the agenda item.

Of the three community speakers, two spoke up against the renaming, with the third individual supporting the plaque option if any change were to be made.

In fact, it became clear quite quickly that the board was leaning towards the installation of a plaque to honor Mitchell instead of renaming the auditorium. However, the decision came with the board split practically in half.

Board members Darryl Adams and Jesse Urquidi expressed disappointment in the decision to forgo the complete renaming of the building.

“We’re not going to have someone touch six generations – six plus decades – ever again,” said Adams. “…I’m just disappointed in the outcome.”

Board Vice President Chris Pflanzer stated that he had wished that the honor would be placed elsewhere – such as John Glenn High School – where Mitchell may have spent more time and work.

Board President Sean Reagan expressed that the plaque was still an honor, even if not the honor that Board member Adams had initially desired.

“I don’t think that it’s an insult to honor a man with a plaque. I don’t know if anyone else has a plaque in the Excelsior Auditorium,” said Reagan. “I think it’s still an honor, although not the kind of honor that Mr. Adams thinks that Mr. Mitchell deserves…”

The motion for the plaque was made by Reagan and seconded by Board member Ana Valencia. The final vote ended in a 4-3 split.