San Francisco School-Board Recall Scheduled after Organizers Surpass Signature Threshold

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Three San Francisco school board members are heading to a recall election early next year after the city’s elections department confirmed the organizers of the recall collected and submitted enough signatures from registered voters.

The recall election for school board president Gabriela López, vice president Faauuga Moliga, and board member Alison Collins will be held on February 15, according to an email from John Arntz, the director of the San Francisco Department of Elections. If voters decide to recall the board members, mayor London Breed would select their replacements, according to the city charter.

The organizers of the recall campaign told National Review in September that they were confident they would get the recall on the ballot. They say they submitted more than 80,000 signatures from registered San Francisco voters for each of the three races, far more than the 51,325 verified signatures they needed to get on the ballot.

The school board recall election will be the first in San Francisco since a failed 1983 effort to recall then-mayor Dianne Feinstein.

Siva Raj and his partner, Autumn Looijen, spearheaded the recall effort in February when they grew frustrated that the school board wasn’t prioritizing reopening public schools closed during the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than working on a reopening plan, it appeared to Raj and others that the board was focusing its energy on social justice issues: rechristening schools named after such troubling American figures as Abraham Lincoln and Paul Revere, making a highly-selective magnet school more diverse, and deciding if a gay white dad was diverse enough to join a volunteer parent committee made up exclusively of women.

The district also is facing a budget deficit of well over $100 million, a drop in enrollment, and significant learning loss, especially among underprivileged kids, Raj said.

In an interview Monday, Looijen said the news that the recall election was official was a relief and “a huge weight off our shoulders.”

“I look forward to running the first successful recall campaign in San Francisco history,” she said.

Raj called it “just an amazing day for the children of San Francisco.”

“We’ve had a real tragic 1 ½ years of the school board basically abandoning our children and abandoning its duty to its constituents to focus on education, sitting back and doing nothing while our school district was spiraling into crisis after crisis,” he said. “This is the first ray of real hope we have of correcting the shift, and getting better leadership in place, and getting the focus back on education, and ensuring that every child in San Francisco has the future they deserve.”

Raj said he’s confident voters will recall the board members in February, citing polling that has shown public dissatisfaction with the board’s performance, and the general energy around the recall effort. Even if the recall ultimately is not successful, he said they’ve already made an impact.

“There’s been this entire grassroots community that’s emerged that is absolutely passionate about public education, and is not going to go away,” Raj said. “We are here. We are going to make sure our schools serve our children. And you can’t wish us away anymore.”

National Review has reached out to López, Collins, and Moliga for comment.

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