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Lawsuit over Virginia schools named for Confederate leaders dismissed

Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia
Statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. – A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the NAACP in Virginia that sought to remove the names of Confederate leaders from two public schools, saying in part that because the schools opened more than 50 years ago, the statute of limitations had expired.

U.S. District Judge Robert Payne said during a previous hearing that he thought the lawsuit was time-barred. The Hanover County school board had argued the civil rights group should have gone to court more than a half-century ago.

The group sued Hanover County and the county school board in August over the naming of Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

The lawsuit argued that black students were forced to attend schools that venerated Confederate imagery in violation of both the First and Fourteenth Amendments and that the county was a compelling speech in support of “a legacy of segregation and oppression.”

Payne ruled that a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury complaints had expired and that the lawsuit failed to allege sufficient facts “to state a claim for relief,” news outlets reported. The lawsuit against the county was previously dismissed.

"The School Board respects, values, and cares about all students and will continue to focus on providing them with the best educational opportunities possible," the board said in a statement obtained by news outlets.

Hanover NAACP President Robert Barnette told The Richmond Times-Dispatch that the chapter was discussing an appeal.