State Watch

3 San Francisco school board members ousted after priorities questioned

Three San Francisco school board members were overwhelmingly voted out of their positions on Tuesday in a widely anticipated recall election.

School Board President Gabriela López, as well as commissioners Faauuga Moliga and Alison Collins, were each recalled by more than 70 percent of the ballots cast on election day, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections.

While school boards have fallen into the political crosshairs during the coronavirus pandemic, the recall of Moliga, Collins and Lopez — three progressives in the seven-member San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education — was the result of bipartisan disagreement and exhaustion with their policies, including a failed attempt to rename 44 public schools in the district.

The city’s liberal mayor London Breed, who will appoint the replacements of the ousted board members, said on Twitter that voters “delivered a clear message that the school board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else.”

“San Francisco is a city that believes in the value of big ideas, but those ideas must be built on the foundation of a government that does the essentials well,” the mayor wrote.

Voters in California’s seventh largest school district, with more than 57,000 students, set up the recall election last year after gathering 70,000 signatures on a petition, or more than 10 percent of the San Francisco electorate, according to the San Francisco Examiner

Parents were initially frustrated that students were still stuck in distance learning last year despite county and state approval of a shift back to in-person learning, and the board faced multiple lawsuits to force them to re-open.

Then the board wanted to rename 44 schools amid a racial reckoning, which critics said was based on historical inaccuracies, The Associated Press reported. The district also moved to end merit-based admissions at an elite high school, Lowell, where Asian Americans hold a majority. That effort came under additional fire when old tweets from commissioner Collins were unearthed in which she said Asians used “white supremacist” thinking to get ahead of Black students.

In November, state Sen. Scott Weiner said in a series of tweets that the school board “engaged in abusive and disruptive behavior, interfered with the Superintendent’s ability to do his job, & caused the school district to deteriorate during the pandemic.”

Tags Board of Education California covid-19 restrictions Education Recall San Francisco schools

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