SF Parents Launching Effort To Recall School Board Members

A San Francisco family has launched an initiative to recall three members of the San Francisco Board of Education.

The petition: Autumn Looijen and Siva Raj, whose children attend school in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) launched a recall petition with an ultimate goal to “get politics out of education.”

Their petition targets board President Gabriela López, Vice President Alison Collins, and Commissioner Faauuga Moliga, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“We are parents, not politicians, and intend to stay that way,” Siva said in a statement. “We are determined to ensure San Francisco’s public schools provide a quality education for every kid in the city.”

More than 1,200 San Francisco residents have signed or said they will sign the petition, which will require 70,000 signatures to put the issue on the ballot, the Chronicle reported.

If they collect that many signatures within 160 days of the launching of the petition, city officials will schedule a special election within 100 days.

Joel Engardio, who is helping the pair organize the recall effort, said he warned them of the challenges, but they could not be discouraged.

“They said, ‘Because it’s so hard, we’re going to find ways to work around it and make it happen,’” Engardio said. “If they have the energy, and wherewithal to try to pull off the impossible, why say no to that?”

“The frustration and outrage is so fever-pitched, there needs to be a place to channel the energy,” Engardio said.

The story: The SFUSD has come under fire over the past weeks after voting late last month to change the names of 44 schools in the district instead of drafting plans to resume in-person learning, which the district is required to do by law.

Amid the widespread rebuke, López wrote in an op-ed for the Chronicle on Sunday that they are halting renaming plans and reopening schools will be 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.”

“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.

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