SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The San Francisco School Board decided Tuesday night to halt its renaming efforts after mounting pressure from a high profile lawsuit and the community.
The board approved a resolution in January to move forward with renaming 44 schools that members said were tied to racist personalities or other injustices by the end of 2021. The conversation about the renaming began in 2018.
In the meantime, parents, students and teachers were engrossed in the classroom debate and wanted school officials to focus on it.
A parenting committee even looked into the idea of recalling school council members for inaction.
“Like so many parents, I am frustrated that the school authorities are not concentrating on schools and are reopening them,” Patrick Wolff told KRON4 in February.
The situation worsened for the San Francisco Unified School District and the school board as soon as the city got involved.
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San Francisco City attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit against school officials and the school district in February alleging school officials failed to perform their duties in preparing for return to school. The lawsuit was the first of its kind in California and was supported by Mayor London Breed.
“The Board of Education and the school district had more than 10 months to work out a specific plan to get these children back to school. So far they have earned an F, ”said Herrera in the announcement of the lawsuit. “Having a plan to make a plan is not going to change it.”
He added that public schools in other Bay Area counties; Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Napa “all figured it out.”
The members of the school council had defended their decision to rename the schools this year. Member Mark Sanchez called the renaming a “moral message” after a summer of protests against Black Lives Matter highlighted nationwide racial injustices.
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But Breed also wanted to focus their attention exclusively on the students.
“What I can’t understand is why the school board is pushing a plan to rename all of these schools by April if there is no plan to have our children back in the classroom by then,” Breed said of the resolution. “Our students are suffering, and we should talk about getting them into classrooms, helping them with mental health, and giving them the resources they need during this challenging time.”
In late February, the president of the school board, Gabriela Lopez, tweeted that they would instead focus on reopening schools.
“This is the last time I will publicly comment on the renaming until the schools reopen,” her statement began. “There was a lot of distracting public debate as we worked to reopen our schools. Renaming the school was one of them. “
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In the latest resolution, the school board commits itself to addressing the renaming problem again “only after all students have studied again in person for 5 full days per week”.
The school district followed a plan that said, “SFUSD will return to face-to-face learning once all actions on the district’s dashboard are completed.”
The dashboard includes standards such as:
- An adequate test plan
- Training of employees
- Students and families informed about protocols
- At least three months of PPE for all participating employees and students
- Work agreements
The school board has approved a schedule in which the dates for the students are staggered from April 12th to study again in person.