The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) has temporarily halted plans to rename 44 schools in the city and instead will focus on getting students and teachers back in the classroom.
In an op-ed for the San Francisco Chronicle published Sunday, SFUSD board president Gabriela López said for now reopening schools is their “only focus.”
“Six weeks ago, I became president of the school board. Since day one, my priority has been to reopen our city’s public schools safely. As soon as possible,” she wrote. “Reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in school.”
The decision comes amid backlash the school district has drawn for focusing on changing schools’ names instead of plans to resume in-person learning, which the district is required to create by law.
Earlier this month, SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Board of Education and the San Francisco Unified School District for violating a state law that obligates schools to come up with plans “to offer classroom-based instruction whenever possible.”
The suit asks the San Francisco Superior Court to issue an emergency order that will require the district to draft a reopening plan to get “kids back in school as quickly as possible.”
In the op-ed, López also addressed the district’s rushed process to rename schools and failure to consult with historians before making the decision, admitting that certain “mistakes” were made during the process.
“There have been many distracting public 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 were made in the renaming process.
“We recognize we need to slow down. And we need to provide more opportunities for community input. We are working with educators at all levels to involve and educate our school communities about the renaming process. We are realizing, especially now, it will take time and energy to get that right,” she wrote, adding that they will reassess their plan and include “historians at nearby universities” in the discussions.
The school district’s initial priorities were criticized by Mayor London Breed.
“What I cannot understand is why the School Board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then,” said Breed.
Meanwhile, residents have launched a recall petition against three members of the San Francisco Board of Education, including López.
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Author: Damjan Tutarkov
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