SAN ANTONIO – The Harlandale Independent School District debated over the proposed school name change for late Tejano music legend Emilio Navaira on Wednesday night in San Antonio. School board trustees argued with each other and community members took opposing viewpoints for the renaming of Vestal Elementary at the scheduled school board meeting, according to MySanAntonio.com.
Navaira, who died on May 16 of an apparent heart attack at age 53, was one of the few Tejano stars with helping popularize Tejano music to the mainstream.
The two-time Grammy Award winner was also charged three times with driving while intoxicated, including the Easter Sunday tour bus accident in 2008 when the singer was behind the wheel. Several band members were injured and Navaira suffered a severe brain injury after he was thrown through the front window. Navaira spent years in recovery after the accident.
This week, Mothers Against Drunk Driving released a statement opposing the school’s name change in honor of Navaira.
“While Mr. Navaira undoubtedly accomplished many great things in his music career, we have concerns that renaming a school in his honor in light of his history of multiple drunk driving offenses sends the wrong message to students.”
Raulito Navaira, Emilio’s brother, spoke at the board meeting on behalf of the Navaira family.
“My brother is a role model but he also is human,” he told trustees. “We all make mistakes.”
Raulito also added Emilio served the community in many ways including donations to many charities and support for local kids with his Tejanos For Children, benefiting the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.
“It’s not just my brother, my mom teached at that school for over 40 years and it would be like my brother’s last gift to her,” Raulito told KENS5.com.
Mary Navaira worked as a bilingual aide at Vestal for more than 25 years and continued as a full-time substitute until the day her son died.
No vote was taken on Vestal’s renaming, which board Vice President Tomas Uresti proposed. The board president says if community members request the name change, there is a lengthy process. They must gather about 300 signatures in support. Residents who sign the petition must be at least 18 years old and live within the school’s boundaries. There would be additional meetings to review and discuss the petition before the board will make a vote.