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San Francisco voters are set to choose whether to recall three San Francisco Board of Education members in the upcoming Feb. 15 election.
Voters will be asked whether to recall Board of Education President Gabriela Lopez, Vice President Faauuga Moliga, and Commissioner Alison Collins.
The recall election comes after the board has faced ongoing scrutiny for the prolonged closure of San Francisco public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although elementary schools reopened in April 2021, middle schools and high schools remained closed for in-person learning for the entire school year and reopened last fall.
Back in March 2021, in an attempt to force schools to reopen, the city of San Francisco sued the school district and the board, seeking an injunction. A judge, however, denied the city’s request.
The recall was organized by a group made up of more than 1,000 volunteers that include parents, educators, and other residents. The group gathered nearly 80,000 signatures, well above the 51,000 needed to make the ballot.
Siva Raj, an organizer of the recall campaign, said it began out of frustration over the school closures a year ago.
“It was obvious the school board had no desire to reopen schools. Not one school site was ready to reopen. They were unprepared,” Raj said. “There were a whole bunch of other priorities they were focusing on.”
He added, “We needed to do something more aggressive to get their attention, that’s when the school board recall got started.”
Raj, a parent of two SFUSD students, said he witnessed his children become depressed and withdrawn as their schools remained closed.
“It was obvious the school board had no desire to reopen schools. Not one school site was ready to reopen. They were unprepared. There were a whole bunch of other priorities they were focusing on.”Siva Raj, recall organizer
“What stunned us was how broadly the anger and frustration with the school board was and the range of issues of why people were upset. So many parents got involved,” he said. “The fact we got it on the ballot was astonishing. It was very gratifying to see.”
According to Raj, commissioners Lopez, Moliga, and Collins are the only commissioners eligible for recall because they have been sitting on the board the longest, not including commissioners who have won recent reelections.
City leaders who have come out in support of the recall include Mayor London Breed and state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.
Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and the United Educators of San Francisco have both come out against the recall effort. Both labor unions represent thousands of SFUSD staff.
According to UESF, the recall effort could cost the city as much as $8 million. Currently, the district is facing a budget shortfall of more than $100 million for the next fiscal year.
“Recalls eat up funding that could be better spent on our kids’ education,” UESF officials said in a statement on social media Thursday. “Vote no to discourage these wasteful recall campaigns and put out taxpayer dollars where it matters most: schools and classrooms.”