San Francisco school board halts appointment based on race

Lyanne Melendez Image
Thursday, February 11, 2021
SF school board halts appointment based on race
In yet another controversial decision, the San Francisco Unified School District's Board of Education has rejected a parent volunteer's appointment to the Parent Advisory Council.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Unified School District's Board of Education has recently been criticized for several decisions, including possibly renaming 44 schools and voting to do away with the merit-based admissions system at Lowell High School.

The board made its latest controversial decision on Tuesday night, when it rejected a parent volunteer who was supposed to be appointed to the Parent Advisory Council.

RELATED: SF School Board votes to end merit-based admission at Lowell High, move school into lottery system

The reason: his race. Seth Brenzel is a white, gay man.

The Parent Advisory Council (PAC) tried to defend its selection of Brenzel as a possible new member during Tuesday's school board meeting.

The PAC advises the board on issues that affect students and parents.

Here's the current ethnic makeup of the PAC:

  • Three Latinas
  • Three white women
  • Two African Americans
  • One Asian American
  • One Pacific Islander

All current members of the PAC are women. Brenzel would have been the only man, and he happens to be white.

School Board Commissioner Alison Collins was adamant that the PAC needed to be more racially diverse.

"In a district that has so many monolingual families and specifically so many Chinese speaking families, this is not OK to me," said Collins.

RELATED: SF to move forward with changing school names with 'ties to racism,' 'dishonorable legacies'

About 33% of SFUSD students are Asian, 28% are Latino, 15% are white and 6% are African American.

The school board argued that adding a white male would tip the balance in the PAC. Whites would then become the "dominating race."

"It's actually about who has a voice in our public schools and public schools are the corner stone of our democracy," argued Commissioner Matt Alexander.

PAC members were surprised with the board's decision, since no one on the board had previously questioned their selection.

"The fact that he brings diversity to our group in other ways, as many people brought up last night, I think was one of the factors that we considered," explained Michelle Jacques-Menegaz, who serves on the PAC.

"We need qualified people and we need representation," said Commissioner Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez said Brenzel is qualified for the position. However, after sensing he did not have the votes, Sanchez decided to take the matter off the table and allow other people of color to apply. He said he hopes Brenzel will apply again.

"He's gay, that's an important voice that we don't have right now, and he's a man. There are no males on the committee, and I'm really looking forward to having his name brought back to us in a month or two and voting on it with a slate of other folks," added Sanchez.

PAC members said since Tuesday's meeting, they have received a number of calls from people who are interested in joining the council.

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