Two San Francisco parents are launching an effort to recall members of the San Francisco Board of Education, which has received national attention in recent weeks for its effort to de-name forty-four public schools that are still closed to in-person learning.
Autumn Looijen and Siva Raj, the organizers, filed state and local paperwork last Friday, and say that more than 1,200 residents have already expressed support for the cause, according to The San Francisco Chronicle. The two have five children enrolled in city schools.
“We are parents, not politicians, and intend to stay that way,” said Raj, reports The San Francisco Chronicle. “We are determined to ensure San Francisco’s public schools provide a quality education for every kid in the city.”
The effort targets School Board President Gabriela López, Vice President Alison M. Colins, and Commissioner Faauuga Moliga, the only three board members who are currently eligible for recall. (Under law, the other four board members must first serve six months in their current term before they can be recalled.)
Over the weekend, López announced that the school board would halt the renaming process — which reportedly utilized Wikipedia and did not involve consulting actual historians. Lopez, who took over the president position six weeks ago, also said that she would not comment on the renaming process effort until public schools in the city were reopened for in-person learning.
“We are deeply grateful for the work of the renaming committee and many schools are as well. They are excited about the opportunity to uplift communities that have previously been underrepresented,” said López in a statement on Twitter on Sunday, later adding: “But reopening will be our only focus until our children and young people are back in schools. We’re cancelling renaming committee meetings for the time being. We will be revising our plans to run a more deliberative process moving forward, which includes engaging historians at nearby universities to help.”
Mayor London Breed, who has voiced support for a lawsuit against the board of education and school district over its lack of re-opening plans, declined to take a stance on a recall and said the emphasis should stay on re-opening.
“The mayor’s focus is on getting our kids back in the classroom as soon as possible,” said Jeff Cretan, Breed’s communications director, told The San Francisco Chronicle. “That needs to be all of our top priority in this moment and we can’t lose focus on that.”
Should the recall effort become official, organizers would have 160 days to gather 70,000 signatures for each school board member they want to recall. Then, if organizers hit the goal and the signatures are approved, a recall could go to voters by November.