RICHMOND -- The West Contra Costa school district has announced four meetings to hear from the Portola Middle School community about a proposal to change the name of the El Cerrito school to Fred T. Korematsu Middle School.

The meetings are scheduled for June 10 at Madera Elementary, 8500 Madera Drive in El Cerrito; June 17 at Fairmont Elementary, 724 Kearney St. in El Cerrito; June 26 at Harding Elementary, 7230 Fairmont Ave. in El Cerrito; and July 1 at Stege Elementary, 4949 Cypress Ave. in Richmond. The four schools feed into Portola.

All meetings will begin at 7 p.m.

Korematsu, who was born in Oakland and grew up in San Leandro, refused to cooperate with the U.S. government's internment of Japanese-Americans in prison camps during World War II.

After the war, his work to expose the injustice of the internment helped lead to an apology from the federal government to those who were interned and in many cases lost their homes, businesses and other property.

Korematsu received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. He died in 2005.

School board President Charles Ramsey suggested the name change, and the board voted to refer the proposal to a three-person investigative committee on May 14.

The community meetings are part of the process the district requires to change the name of a school, according to Marcus Walton, communications director for the school district.

Walton said the district is hoping that the committee can make a recommendation to the board by early July.


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Ramsey said he has received a few emails opposing the name change since the proposal was announced.

"Mr. Ramsey has been a proponent (of the proposal)," Walton said. "He feels this is an opportunity to educate students ... that you can stand up to injustice no matter what form it takes."

Portola is being housed in portable classrooms on the site of the original 61-year-old campus, which was torn down in 2012. The campus is on the block bordered by Navellier Street, Portola Drive and Moeser Lane.

The district is in the process of building a new school on the site of the former Castro Elementary School at 7125 Donal Ave.