Democratic lawmakers representing San Francisco rebuked their own local school officials in a letter this week, calling on California state officials to deny them access to $12 million in COVID-19 relief that was supposed to incentivize in-person instruction.
In a letter to the California state officials, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-SF), Assemblymember David Chiu (D-SF), and Senator Scott Wiener (D-SF) accused San Francisco Unified of offering only some high school students in-person instruction as part of a “poor attempt to exploit a perceived legal loophole” in funding requirements.
“The definition of ‘offered’ in-person instruction to all pupils in at least one full grade level could not be clearer. We did not intend for some pupils to be merely informed of when they may see the inside of a classroom, a teacher, and their peers, on some future date. Our intent, and the letter of the law, states that every student in that grade shall be offered the opportunity to return to school no later than May 15, 2021,” the San Francisco delegation wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO.
“We need accountability of and responsibility from our school districts now more than ever,” they later added.
San Francisco public high schools only offered several days of in-person instruction to high school seniors, conveniently beginning the day before the state funding deadline. At the time of the announcement, the district didn’t even reveal how much in-person instruction would actually be provided. They did say, however, that “most” returning high school seniors would “participate in at least three days of in-person learning.”
Susan Solomon, the president of United Educators of San Francisco, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the effort to deny the extra funding to the school district would hurt its students, something that she referred to as “reprehensible and morally wrong.”
Ting, however, disagrees, having told the San Francisco Chronicle in an interview: “This money was used to incentivize reopening, and clearly, the district cared more about getting the money than actually bringing back children into the classroom.”
“They clearly didn’t meet the requirement for the most vulnerable students,” he said.
The lawmakers’ rebuke is only the latest example of San Francisco officials going up against their own school officials.
Back in October, Mayor London Breed called out school board members for working on a school re-naming campaign while students remained outside of the classroom. And earlier this year, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against school officials for failing to detail their plans for a return to in-person learning, as The Daily Wire previously reported. The district superintendent called the suit meritless.
“This isn’t helpful when we’re all in this together,” said Superintendent Vincent Matthews, reported the San Francisco Chronicle in early February. “To turn on those of us trying to solve this is not helpful whatsoever.”
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