Home News San Francisco school officials sued over plan to rename ‘racist’ schools

San Francisco school officials sued over plan to rename ‘racist’ schools

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A group of alumni has banded together to sue the San Francisco school system in hopes of permanently blocking any chance that supposedly “racist” names — including Abraham Lincoln and Dianne Feinstein — will be scrubbed from the schools.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in San Francisco County Superior Court against the San Francisco School Board and Superintendent Vincent Matthews demands that officials officially repeal the controversial renaming resolution, claiming the city erred by not giving community members or historians a chance to weigh in.

Last month, school officials tentatively walked back the school renaming plan in the face of public outrage, saying they would not move to rebrand the 44 schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But lawyers representing a group of alumni associations told The Post Friday that the walk-back is not legally binding.

The new lawsuit is intended to make sure the city keeps its word and follows legal protocols before adopting any name changes moving forward, said one of the lawyers, Paul Scott.

The renaming resolution was in violation of the Brown Act, which requires the school board to make sure community members have a say in the matter, Scott said.

“The whole process in itself was flawed because they decided on whether or not to rename 44 schools all in one vote with 30 minutes of public comment,” Scott said.

“Nobody was able to appear in person, and again, like I said, inadequate notice. So there were a number of problems with the process,” the lawyer continued.

A group of alumni is suing the  San Francisco School Board and Superintendent Vincent Matthews to repeal its renaming resolution of public schools with “racist” connections.
A group of alumni is suing the San Francisco School Board and Superintendent Vincent Matthews to repeal its renaming resolution of public schools with “racist” connections.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Another alleged violation was that the school board misrepresented that an independent blue ribbon panel would weigh in on changing the names of schools — which the board had complained were named after “racist, sexist or oppressive” historical figures, including George Washington and Paul Revere.

“It wasn’t truly independent. It lacked expertise. There were no historians on the committee and ended up dictating what was going to happen before the school board even voted,” Scott said.

The lawsuit will require school officials to tell the court if they will repeal the renaming resolution and dissolve the committee by April 15.

“Reflecting on our national history and uplifting disadvantaged groups are both positive and necessary steps toward attaining some measure of social justice and a concomitant reduction in prejudice. They help us heal and move forward,” the lawsuit says.

“As with all great tests faced by our society, however, it is critical that our solutions ring   true as just, which enables them to endure. And in this context, nothing is more important than adherence to the law and due process.”

The San Francisco board of education voted 6-1 to scrub names of founding fathers, abolitionists and even California’s longtime Democrat senator from its school buildings in January.

The move was widely panned as a “cancel culture” overreach. One group’s report found the decisions were “arbitrary, subjective, superficial” and based on research gathered through “casual Google searches.”

School officials had claimed Paul Revere should be canceled because members did not like a benign top ten list about the Revolutionary War they saw on the History Channel, according to the Mission Local report.

Abraham Lincoln High School – named after the president who many historians consider the country’s greatest – was slated for renaming after only five seconds of consideration because he was said to be “discriminatory and damaging to Native Americans.”

Feinstein’s name was to be yanked from an elementary school because she replaced a Confederate flag that was removed by a protester when she was San Francisco’s mayor.

Even the famed San Fran bohemian neighborhood The Mission was not fit to be adorned on a school, because “All CA missions are sites of slavery and colonization,” the school renaming committee stated, the community outlet reported. 

“If they want to have a discussion about school names it should happen in a context where there is actually full and fair opportunity for public input, and it should come from individual school communities and the stakeholders in individual schools,” Scott said.

“The parents, the teachers, the staff, the alumni — all have a fair opportunity to give input and decide whether that’s what they want for their particular school.”

Iconic liberal law icon Laurence Tribe of Harvard University is among the attorneys who filed the suit Thursday,

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