Education agency in SW Michigan is dropping Cass name

The Herald-Palladium

Cassopolis – A regional education agency named for former U.S. Sen. Lewis Cass is dropping the name.

Trustees last week voted unanimously to change the name of the Cass Intermediate School District in southwestern Michigan, The Herald-Palladium reported. A new name will be selected in January.

Cass, who died in 1866, was a U.S. senator as well as governor of Michigan before it became a state. He also owned slaves and removed Native Americans from tribal lands while serving in President Andrew Jackson’s administration.

“We’re a diverse community here in Cass County,” Superintendent Brent Holcomb said. “I think this is an opportunity to show some grace. We serve all kids from all origins. … This is a big deal relative to some of the minority populations in our community.”

The Cass ISD provides special education and career technical education coordination to local schools. It serves Cass County and small parts of Berrien, St. Joseph and Van Buren counties.

Trustees formed a committee to look at the name after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer took Cass’ name off a state building in Lansing.

Julie Dye, a Pokagon tribal representative on the committee, said changing the name is significant.

“When the announcement was made that they were going to start meeting and possibly change the name, one of our grandmothers from the tribe said it brought her to tears because she never thought it would be addressed,” Dye said.