San Francisco is suing its own public school district for failing to develop a sufficient plan to return kids to in-person learning, the city attorney announced on Wednesday.
The lawsuit, supported by the mayor, accuses San Francisco Unified School District of violating California law by failing to detail the steps needed to return students to in-person learning “whenever possible,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Private and parochial schools in San Francisco have figured it out,” said City Attorney Dennis Herrera in a statement Wednesday. “In-person instruction needs to be the Board of Education’s singular focus — not renaming schools that are empty, or changing admission policies when teachers aren’t in classrooms. It’s unfortunate we have to take them to court to get it figured out, but enough is enough.”
In recent weeks, while kids have remained out of the classroom, the school board voted to rename 44 schools, including schools named after Dianne Feinstein, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln. The school board is also considering scrapping the admissions process at Lowell High School, a prestigious public high school, in favor of a lottery-based admissions process, according to NBC News. That vote is still pending.
The lawsuit seeks to force the district to develop a reopening plan through a preliminary injunction, said Herrera, who noted that San Francisco has offered to help in the past.
“Unfortunately, the leadership of the school district and the educators’ union can’t seem to get their act together,” said Herrera, reports SFGate. “The Board of Education and the school district have had more than 10 months to roll out a concrete plan to get these kids back in school. So far they have earned an F. Having a plan to make a plan doesn’t cut it.”
School Board President Gabriela López responded by saying the lawsuit will “most likely slow us down,” according to the Chronicle. Superintendent Vincent Matthews said the school district “absolutely” has a plan, and was simply “reassessing” different parts of it.
“This isn’t helpful when we’re all in this together,” said Matthews. “To turn on those of us trying to solve this is not helpful whatsoever.”
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement that the lawsuit was not the preferred method to get the district to act, but “nothing matters more right now than getting our kids back to school.” Breed has been pushing for public schools to reopen for months, and back in October, called out the district for dedicating time to its renaming plans when kids were still out of the classroom. She has been largely powerless to force them open.
The City has offered resources and staff to get our school facilities ready and to support testing for our educators. We’ve offered the guidance and expertise of the Department of Public Health. We are ready and willing to do our part to get our kids back in the classroom.
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) February 3, 2021