Michael Jackson’s Name To Remain On L.A. School Auditorium

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A Los Angeles-area school will keep Michael Jackson’s name on its auditorium after parents voted to keep it despite the controversy surrounding the late singer’s sexual assault allegations.

As L.A. Magazine reports, parents of students at Gardner Street Elementary School in Hollywood took a vote to either keep or ditch the name on the school’s auditorium, and when it was over, the decision was made to keep the name, says a statement from the Los Angeles Unified School District.

“A majority of those who participated voted to maintain the current name as the Michael Jackson Auditorium. School leaders, teachers and support staff will focus on preventing any further disruptions to the school and further impact to classroom instruction, student learning and safety.”

Since 1989, the school auditorium has borne the name of the singer, who had attended there briefly as a sixth-grader 20 years earlier. At the time, Jackson was at the height of his fame and wasn’t yet the subject of allegations of sexual abuse, the first of which came four years later in 1993.

Despite the 1993 allegations, Gardner Street Elementary kept Jackson’s name on the auditorium, and it remained so until 2003. That was when Jackson was first arrested and issued criminal charges of child molestation. At the time, the school covered over his name with plywood and paint; the covering was later removed and his name restored after his death a few years later.

The matter of Michael Jackson’s legacy, particularly as it relates to a building in which children come and go, became an issue again in early 2019 when the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland accused Jackson of sexually abusing boys.

As L.A. Magazine reported at the time, officials raised concerns about the appropriateness of the name and decided to put the matter to the parents for a vote.

In April, as Los Angeles’ KNBC-TV reported at the time, parents were conflicted about what to do. One parent of a fifth-grader at the school, who asked not to be identified, said that he had to weigh the allegations against Jackson’s musical legacy.

“I’ve tried to digest this. I’ve grappled with it and I haven’t come to any decision. The documentary was a dark thing. And I believe the two men. But his music still lives. My gosh, people love his music. It’s a huge joy for them.”

It remains unclear, as of this writing, how many parents of the roughly 400 kids who attend the school voted.