Polk Elementary to be renamed after first black female EBR School Board member

Polk Elementary School to be renamed Eva Legard Learning Center

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Polk Elementary School is getting a new name. The 59 year old school named after President James Polk will soon become the Eva Legard Learning Center.

State Representative Pat Smith, District 67, presented the name change to members of the school board earlier in in 2019.

“I really wanted to honor an individual who was in our community who was a first,” said Smith.

Legard was the first black woman on the East Baton Rouge School Board. She represented District 5 from 1980 to 1994.

Eva Legard (far right)
Eva Legard (far right) (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish School System)

“We have no buildings in a predominantly African American school district that’s named after someone who served this community. We need to honor the legacy of people who are in our community, who did things in our community to make our community what it is,” said Smith.

Smith was not the only one pushing for the name change. Evelyn Ware-Jackson, school board member for District 5, says she’s glad to see the school named after one of her predecessors.

“I thought it was great thing to do, to bring honor to her and to the history of that rich culture that’s in that particular area of town,” said Ware-Jackson.

Ware-Jackson says Legard was a huge asset to the area on and off the school board, often educating kids in her own home. Jackson says the name change was not to slight former President Polk, but rather to honor a person who did so much for the area.

"It had absolutely nothing to do with President Polk, but it was an idea that was just brought out of the love for Mrs. Legard and the history and the culture of that neighborhood,” said Ware-Jackson.

(Source: WAFB)

A new name may also give the school a new future. The building is currently being used as office space for the fine arts department. It will eventually become a transitional school.

“This is going to be a stable facility in our community whether it’s used as a school, whether it is turned into a real learning center for the community, it’s going to be stable,” said Smith.

Finding funding to rename the school is still in discussion.

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