Nearly a month after San Francisco voters recalled three Board of Education commissioners, Mayor London Breed on Friday announced the three appointees who will replace the recalled commissioners.
Speaking at Galileo Academy of Science and Technology, Breed’s former alma mater, Breed swore in the three new commissioners: Ann Hsu, Lainie Motamedi, and Lisa Weissman-Ward.
“This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as mayor because it is about the future of our children,” Breed said. “It’s time for this city and our public school system to get back to the basics of educating our children.”
According to Breed, her office underwent an extensive process to identify, interview, and select the candidates during the last few weeks. Part of the process also included meeting with parents throughout the city and the labor union United Educators of San Francisco to gather different perspectives.
Speaking of the three new commissioners, Breed said, “I’m so happy and so proud that we have three amazing women who all have kids in the public school system; who all have a common theme of service; who all care deeply about seeing a change; who all want better for our children and also care about supporting our educators; who understand that there are hard decisions ahead of us; and who are willing to ignore the politics.”
The weight of responsibility
Hsu was born in China and is a former tech entrepreneur. She currently lives in the city’s Richmond District and is the president of Galileo’s Parent Teacher Student Association, as well as chairperson of the San Francisco Unified School District’s Independent Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee.
“I feel the weight of this position already,” Hsu said. “I’m now not just responsible for my own kids, I’m now responsible for all the kids of San Francisco. And I want to recognize, appreciate, and foster the talents and strengths in each and every child in our care so that they can find their own paths in life.”
“This is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make as mayor because it is about the future of our children. It’s time for this city and our public school system to get back to the basics of educating our children.”Mayor London Breed
Motamedi, an Inner Sunset resident, currently works as volunteer lead for the National Park Service in the Golden Gate Park National Recreation Area. Most recently she served as co-chair of the SFUSD Public Education Enrichment Fund Committee.
“I’m incredibly honored to be chosen to serve on the San Francisco school board and I know how important public schools are for children and families, and I also know how hard the last two years have been on so many,” Motamedi said. “Today we are turning the page.”
Weissman-Ward, a Mission District resident, works as the associate director of the Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic and is a member of the National Lawyers Guild as well as the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“This district is facing serious challenges, many of which were caused by or exacerbated by the pandemic. The list is long and includes things like learning loss, mental health crises, an ever-growing opportunity gap for many students of color, financial woes for the district, and fundamentals like getting our teachers and staff paid,” Weissman-Ward said. “Despite these challenges I want to echo a theme of hope for my new colleagues. We’re here with a sense of hope and a commitment to work collaboratively to turn things around.”
Tough issues ahead
The school board replacements come as the district faces significant issues, such as a projected $125 million budget deficit for the upcoming school year. To balance the budget, the board is considering layoffs for hundreds of teachers and staff members.
In addition, the board is currently seeking a new superintendent as current superintendent Vincent Matthews is set to retire at the end of the school year.
“I look forward to working with the new leaders of the Board of Education and I want to thank the new commissioners for their willingness to serve the greatest school district in the history of humankind,” Matthews said. “Above all else, we are educators and our priority is and will continue to be helping students reach their full potential.”
During last month’s Feb. 15 election, voters overwhelmingly approved recalling Board of Education president Gabriela Lopez, vice president Faauuga Moliga, and commissioner Alison Collins. The three ousted board members have already vacated their seats, with Moliga resigning from the position just one day after the election.
Motamedi, Hsu, and Weissman-Ward will serve the remainder of the recently vacated terms through the end of 2022, as all three seats will be up for election in November.