• Richard Easson

San Francisco Parents Recalling Elected Board of Education Members

The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) last month postponed talks on reopening public school classrooms. They instead decided to work on renaming 44 of the city’s schools, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln high schools, and an elementary school named after U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

A city nonprofit organization called Families for San Francisco put together the Campaign for Better Public Schools to target elected SFUSD board members who are eligible for a recall and expressed their desire to place a charter amendment on the ballot to make board members mayoral appointees instead of elected officials. Two parents have also led a charge of their own in initiating recalls for those on the board.

Suddenly the plan to rename schools came to a halt and talks about reopening schools to precedence. One of those in the recall’s crosshairs, board president Gabriela Lopez, tweeted. "there have been many distracting debates as we've been working to reopen our schools. School renaming has been one of them. It was a process begun in 2018 with a timeline that didn't anticipate a pandemic. I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes made in the renaming process."

The city actually sued the school district to open classrooms citing USCF Benioff Children’s Hospital seeing a 66% increase in the number of suicidal children in the emergency room, and a 75% increase in those requiring hospitalization for mental health services.

A California law was passed prior to the opening of the 2020-21 school year requiring school districts to create and adopt a clear reopening plan during the pandemic, but the SFUSD and teachers’ union impasse stopped that from happening.

Patrick Wolff, chief strategist for a San Francisco Examiner report, said, “we’re going to explore options.”

He added, "At a minimum, we want a better school board. There’s really a crisis of government at the moment and we certainly want to address that. We want to see if we can use this moment and groundswell to make longer-lasting, more fundamental reform for the betterment of [public schools.]"