San Francisco School Board Could Face Reckoning in Recall Vote

The fate of three San Francisco School Board members hangs in the balance Tuesday, as voters decide whether to oust San Francisco School Board President Gabriela Lopez, Trustee Alison Collins and Trustee Faauuga Moliga from office. The recall is being watched by politicos around the nation.

No single event is responsible for the recall. A confluence of factors and events brought San Francisco to a boiling point during the pandemic.

There were concerns about the board’s decision-making even before COVID school closures, which dragged on longer in San Francisco than just about anywhere else.

In 2019, the school board voted to remove a mural of George Washington at a local high school, sparking a legal fight that the board lost.

In 2021, the board ended merit-based admissions for 9th graders at the elite Lowell High School, infuriating many parents. A judge later said trustees violated the Brown Act when they voted to end the competitive admissions process.

The board repeatedly dragged its feet on school reopenings even as coronavirus cases remained exceptionally low in the San Francisco Bay region, prompting a lawsuit from City Attorney Dennis Herrera.

In the middle of the greatest public health crisis of the 21st century, board members pursued a plan to rename dozens of schools with potentially offensive names, including a school named after Abraham Lincoln. The outcry was so great that the board reversed its decision.

Last year, a series of anti-Asian tweets by board member Allison Collins resurfaced. Her colleagues removed her from the vice presidency. She sued, but a judge dismissed the lawsuit.

In December, the board approved massive cuts to avoid a state takeover amid dire financial conditions.

The list goes on.

California is still in the midst of recall fever, driven largely by an incensed and emboldened right wing. What makes this recall different is the number of progressive Democrats supporting the effort. San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) have both endorsed the school board recall.

Despite national media attention and millions in campaign spending, the early vote turnout ahead of the election is surprisingly low. Early voting by mail is about half of what it was during last September's recall effort against Governor Gavin Newsom, said elections Chief John Arntz.


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