San Francisco recalls 3 school board members: 'a clear message'
In San Francisco, one of nation’s most liberal cities, recall effort split Democrats
San Francisco residents overwhelmingly approved of a vote Tuesday to recall three of the city’s school board members, election officials said.
Critics, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, argued the members — school board President Gabriela López, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison Collins — pushed progressive politics rather than act in the best interest of children during the pandemic, and voters agreed, according to the San Francisco Department of Elections.
"The voters of this city have delivered a clear message that the school board must focus on the essentials of delivering a well-run school system above all else," Breed said in a statement after the vote. "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."
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In San Francisco, one of the country's most liberal cities, Democrats were split over the recall effort.
The mayor, who is now responsible for appointing new board members to fill the vacancies until another election in November, also praised the parents who initiated the effort.
The parents "were fighting for what matters most — their children," she said.
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Those who opposed the recall called it a waste of time and money, but enough San Francisco residents launched the recall effort in January 2021, claiming the school board members poorly chose their priorities, which included the renaming of 44 schools, but were slow to reopen district schools that were closed under the coronavirus pandemic.
"The city of San Francisco has risen up and said this is not acceptable to put our kids last," said Siva Raj, a parent who helped launch the recall effort. "Talk is not going to educate our children, it’s action. It’s not about symbolic action, it’s not about changing the name on a school, it is about helping kids inside the school building read and learn math."
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Collins, Lopez and Moliga have consistently defended themselves as they claim their record shows they are doing what they were elected to do.
The recall was started in January 2021, after the board voted to rename 44 schools that honored Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein — public figures the board claimed were linked to racism and sexism. The plan was subsequently criticized for historical inaccuracies and the school board ultimately dropped it.
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Collins was criticized again after tweets she wrote in 2016 resurfaced, which critics argued were racist. Collins said the tweets were taken out of context, refused to remove them, then sued the district and her colleagues for $87 million. The lawsuit was dismissed.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.