The school board recall vote explained


Voters in San Francisco will head to the polls on Feb. 15, for a special election to weigh in on a new rater-recorder, and those living in the city’s east end will be able to vote in a primary for a new district. 17 Member of the Assembly. But the most contentious issue voters are likely to face is the potential recall of three school board members that made national headlines. Political observers are watching the recall closely, curious whether parents – upset over pandemic education policies – will be a major factor in the upcoming state and national elections.

A recall is a special election that allows voters to recall elected officials before their terms expire.

What does it take to get a recall election on the ballot in San Francisco?

Those organizing a recall must submit valid signatures supporting the recall of the equivalent of 10% of registered voters, or just over 51,000. During the school board recall, organizers collected approximately 80,000 signatures for each of the council members to ensure that a sufficient number were valid.

Which board members face the recall election on Feb. 15?

President Gabriela López and board members Faauuga Moliga and Alison Collins.

Why these three?

Of the seven members of the board, these three were the only ones to have served long enough in their terms of office – at least a year – to be removable. The other four had not yet served a year of their current terms at the time.

Why do the organizers want to recall the members of the board of directors?

Much of the advocacy for the recall has to do with distance learning going on in the district last year during the pandemic, despite permission to reopen from county and state health officials. Supporters say that instead of focusing on the needs of students struggling with virtual teaching, the council focused on an effort to rename 44 school sites, a vote that was later overturned following a a trial. Additionally, the board voted to make permanent the decision to use a lottery system for admission to Lowell High School, despite the lack of public participation. A lawsuit also led the board to overturn the decision.

What are the opponents saying?

Those who oppose the recall wonder why the city is spending more than $3 million on a recall election when the terms of all three council members expire in January 2023. Many critics have also questioned whether the recall does part of the public or Republican-backed school privatization effort, although there is no evidence to suggest this is the case.

How are the fans reacting?

Organizers say there are important decisions to be made before the next school board election in November, including selecting a new superintendent and balancing a massive $125 million budget shortfall.

Is it an all or nothing vote?

No. Each board member is individually for reminder, which would require the support of a majority of voters.

What if some or all of them are recalled by voters?

The mayor would appoint replacements, who would serve the remaining term and be re-elected in November.

Who pays for this?

Taxpayers. While the school district typically covers its financial share of elections, the Board of Supervisors voted 10 to 1 to use city funding to cover district costs rather than place the burden on classrooms.

Who supports the recall?

Several elected officials weighed in for the recall of one or more board members, including Mayor London Breed, who announced she would vote to remove all three board members from office.

Who is against the recall?

The United Educators of San Francisco, the district’s teachers’ union, denounced the recall. Supervisory President Shamann Walton said he opposes all recall elections. There is also a formal opposition group created to stop the recall. The San Francisco Berniecrats and the San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club also formally opposed the recall.

Jill Tucker is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @jilltucker


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