letter to the editor

Letter to the Editor: Time to Recall the Board of Education?

Is the SF Board of Education and its leader asking for another lawsuit, to be recalled or both?  

Let’s recap the hot waters the board has already plunged into so far 2021:

– In February 2021, the City’s district attorney sued the Board of Education for lackadaisical action in reopening the City’s schools. This is while federal, state and local health experts reiterated that it was safe to reopen due to San Francisco having some of the lowest COVID-19 case counts in the nation and private schools in the City had been open since the fall without significant outbreaks.

– In March 2021, the alumni associations of Lincoln and Washington High Schools sued the Board over renaming 44 of the City’s schools that the board felt had racist connotations. The renaming initiative was based on haphazard research and casual internet searches. This project may have stoked the personal agendas of board members, but it neglected the needs of students and wishes of the community on where school officials’ energies should be spent.

– In March 2021, board member Alison Collins retaliated against her fellow board members by suing for $87 million. In a declaration of no confidence in Collins’ ability to effectively govern, fellow board members had previously stripped Collins of certain duties after her anti-Asian racist social media postings were discovered. Board President Gabriella Lopez was the one dissenting vote in the demotion.

 – In April 2021, Friends of Lowell sued the Board over its impetuous action to eliminate merit as a basis of admission at the academically focused high school. The lawsuit alleges that proper protocol was disregarded and the Board’s resolution violated California’s Brown Act.. 

Lopez, who moved to San Francisco in 2016, has presided over the Board during these clashes and has had a hand in all of these actions, inactions and violations. She blows her own horn about being the youngest-ever female elected politician in San Francisco history.  

She recently attended a graduation and boasted about her title and signature on her Facebook page. 

Ironically, on the same day, a San Francisco Chronicle article ran about a parent who moved her children from public school and enrolled them in a private school. The article reported that one of her children didn’t have enough muscle control in his hand to write after spending months on a computer tablet and was behind his peers academically.

At Lopez’s pace, she could possibly be the most sued San Franciscan per year of residency and the subject of the most lawsuits of any politician below age 35. Defense of these lawsuits comes at the expense of the SFUSD, your tax dollars and the futures of the students of San Francisco.

The Board’s latest project under Lopez’s leadership is another one careening towards disaster. As part of the board resolution changing Lowell’s admission process that is currently involved in litigation, the Board is forming a “Community Coalition.” This committee “to define and oversee an equity audit and resulting action plan to address the exclusion and ongoing toxic racist abuse that students of color, and specifically Black students, have experienced at Lowell High School since the school’s creation.” The resolution mentions that Lowell was founded in 1856.   

One can already see multiple flaws with this project:

  1. High school is a four-year experience with 25% of the student body graduating and moving on with their lives each year. I’m boggled by how the auditors will find a representative sample of who have gone through Lowell over one and a half centuries to interview in order to verify the assertion.
  2. It’s common knowledge that to achieve a fair unbiased conclusion, audits need to be conducted by an impartial third party. The resolution requires that this audit of Black student experiences be conducted in collaboration with multiple chapters of the NAACP. Also the Community Coalition needs to be comprised of “SFUSD Black Student Union leaders, SFUSD African American Parent Advisory Council, the SF Alliance of Black School Educators, and other alumni, anti-racist educators, students, and community leaders.”  Do you think we can guess the outcome of this audit of the experiences of Black students if it’s overseen by leaders and alliances of the same?
  3. The resolution pinpoints Lowell as lacking diversity and being physically, emotionally and culturally unsafe. Families for San Francisco, a group striving to advocate for good governance, published a SFUSD High School Culture/Climate Survey Data Analysis. The report found that most SFUSD high schools have significant over and under representation in mean demographic categories and Lowell’s level of imbalance is in the middle compared to all other SFUSD high schools. And Lowell’s Culture/Climate scores were close to the SFUSD high school average score across demographic categories, except for Sense of Belonging for African American students. It seems like the diversity issue deserves more urgent attention at other schools than at Lowell and the low Sense of Belonging scores should be addressed directly rather than indirectly by changing admission criteria for everyone involved.
  4. The board hosted a couple information sessions over Zoom on May 12 and May 19, 2021.  Questions raised by the public indicated confusion and doubt on the board’s intentions.  Some of the impressions I gathered:
    1. I found out about this committee and meeting through word of mouth. The application deadline is May 21, 2021.  Why wasn’t there better direct outreach to the community from SFUSD?
    2. This committee is looking to solve a diversity problem.  Why isn’t the application or information available in foreign languages?
    3. What are the qualifications to be on the committee and who makes decisions during the evaluation process?
    4. Without transparency on a fair process to become a committee member, is the board trying to stack committee membership to achieve their agenda? 
    5. The resolution calling for the formation of this committee is the same resolution involved in litigation for changing Lowell’s admission process. If that aspect is decided as illegitimate, isn’t this as well?
    6. Why is Lowell being singled out when there are equivalent or more severe diversity and climate issues at other SFUSD high schools?  Is it because board member Allison Collins daughters attend one of these other schools?  Is it because SFUSD is looking to uplift certain ethnicities and Asians are not one of them?
    7. Why is Collins, who was stripped of committee memberships for making anti-Asian racist social media postings, sitting in this meeting and speaking freely when others must wait their turn to speak and then speak with time limits? We’re trying to solve a diversity issue, but Asians feel hurt just to be in her presence.

I learned that the Board revealed to May 19, 2021 meeting attendees that the application was extended to June 11, 2021.  However, for the majority of the public who didn’t attend and relies on the committee’s SFUSD website, the new date is nowhere on the website and it still shows the May 19, 2021 deadline as of June 8, 2021. The May 12 meeting replay is on the website, but the May 19 meeting replay is not. You don’t think obscuring the extended due date from the public will stack applications in favor of individuals in the Board’s inner circle do you?

Has the Board not learned from the existing Brown Act violation suit over following a fair and compliant process, listening to the community and relying on data rather than personal agendas and impulses? It doesn’t appear so.

Together, we can put an end to these shenanigans. Let’s sign the necessary number of petitions needed to start the recall of Board of Education President Lopez and the rest of the Board before they trigger more lawsuits and further endanger the future of public education in San Francisco. Their inaction where needed and actions where not needed have proven that they are motivated more by personal agendas and egos than an underlying care for San Francisco’s students and families.  

David Chanloetter

2 replies »

  1. The problem is that then the mayor appoints the replacement members.

    The worst thing is not mentioned: The plan to cover the historical mural at GW High.


  2. The list of unprofessional actions taken by the current BOE is only getting longer as time goes on.

    The GWHS mural debacle brought national attention and the huge lawsuit filed by disgruntled BOE member is completely outrageous.

    I support the recall and have signed the petition. Let the voting public finally have their say in this.


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