SF school board votes to pause renaming schools, fully resume in-person learning this fall

ByLyanne Melendez and Matt Boone KGO logo
Wednesday, April 7, 2021
SF school board to put aside renaming schools, for now
The San Francisco School Board is expected to rescind the controversial resolution of renaming of schools, for now.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco School Board rescinded the controversial resolution of renaming of schools, for now. The matter has gained a lot of attention across the country.

After mounting public pressure and the desire to avoid a lawsuit, the San Francisco Unified School District Board voted Tuesday night to postpone the plan.

In a unanimous decision, the board decided to table the controversial plan until students have returned to school five days a week.

The issue of when all students will return was also on the agenda. Introduced by commissioner Jenny Lam, the board voted unanimously to approve a resolution committing to have in-person learning for all grade levels when class resumes in August. The exact details of that plan have yet to be worked out.

RELATED: San Francisco school board puts hold on renaming its 44 schools

It's fair to say that this somewhat new school board was following a 2018 resolution to dismantle symbols of racism and white supremacy when it decided to rename some 44 San Francisco schools.

Those names were said to be associated with slavery, oppression, etc. But it was how an advisory committee to the school board went about it that caused a lot of criticism.

No historians or professors were consulted, and the committee in charge of the process was not always accurate.

For example, the committee thought Sanchez Elementary was named after Jose Bernardo Sanchez, who accompanied a military expedition against indigenous people.

VIDEO: Factual inaccuracies found in the research behind renaming SF schools

The School Names Advisory Committee advises the school board on which schools meet criteria for a name change. Apparently, in some cases, the committee got their facts wrong.

"Sanchez, here's another colonizer. If you said colonizer, it meets our criteria. Colonizer, California missions, Bla, bla, bla, it's in the notes. Yes."

Except that, they had the wrong Sanchez.

Now, the school board says it will revisit the matter but only after all San Francisco schools reopen for full in-person learning. The committee will also see a welcoming addition.

"We do want to use the expertise from professors at nearby universities to support the work that we've been doing. We have heard from families of their interest in being involved in this process," explained School Board President Gabriela Lopez.

RELATED: Are acronyms a symptom of 'white supremacy culture?' SFUSD makes another disputable decision

Paul Scott is the attorney who sued the district to rescind the vote and dissolve the committee.

"This approval of having a top down process where a group of un-elected people are dictating to schools throughout the city what their school names should be whether or not is consistent with San Francisco values is not a good approach," said Scott.

The school board is clear that the issue became a distraction. To prove that they are focused entirely on reopening school, Commissioner Jenny Lam will introduce a resolution pledging to bring back all students by the Fall.

"We have the data and the science to help us to do this correctly and safely for our students, our staff and our families," added Lam.