It was standing room only as West Side parents packed a school board meeting on Monday night.
Many of the parents said that they were not asking the board to dump the name Vang Pao, but only to reconsider it. Some said that they feel they've been getting the cold shoulder from board members, WISC-TV reported.
Several board members said that they believe the time to speak up and object to the name has already come and gone. Many said that they wonder where the critics were when the school names were being publicly debated.
"I'm comfortable with the decision we made and am sticking with that," said board member Lawrie Kobza.
Vang Pao has become a lightning rod in the community. He is loved and respected by hundreds of thousands of Hmong veterans and their families who said the general fought alongside U.S. troops during the Vietnam War and helped save his people by leading them to new lives.
"This is a person who changed the future of a whole race," said former board member Shwaw Vang.
"I am here because of who he is," said student Peng Vang. "I am a United States citizen and am in support of Vang Pao."
But a University of Wisconsin history professor and others who've studied the CIA's secret war in Laos, which Vang Pao led, are convinced the general ran drugs and committed atrocities during those tumultuous years, WISC-TV reported.
Heidi Reynolds, one vocal opponent to the name has already collected 500 signatures from residents who would like to see the name changed. Reynolds said that she plans to start an e-mail campaign to board members beginning on Tuesday.
Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.
- May 7, 2007: Parents Pack Meeting To Object To Vang Pao's Name
- May 7, 2007: Community Divides Over New Gen. Vang Pao Elementary
- April 16, 2007: Decision To Name School After Hmong General Stirs Debate
- April 11, 2007: School Board Selects Name For New Madison School
- April 10, 2007: New Elementary Named After Hmong Military Leader