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George Washington High Alumni Sue S.F. School District to Keep Historic Mural

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- An alumni association filed a lawsuit on Friday challenging the San Francisco Unified School District's Board of Education over the board's decision to cover up a controversial mural.

Back in August, the board voted 4-3 for the resolution to cover the decades-old mural inside George Washington High School with panels.

George Washington High School Murals
S.F. Washington High School invited the community to view the controversial murals depicting the life of the first president which are set to be painted over. (CBS)

The decision came after an outcry from community activists, who called the 1936 mural by Victor Arnautoff, titled "Life of Washington," offensive for its depiction of Native Americans and African Americans.

According to the George Washington High School Alumni Association, which filed the lawsuit, the board first needs to conduct an environmental review, which they said is required by state law, before covering the mural.

Association President John Rothmann said in a statement, "We are dedicated to the proposition that the Arnautoff murals should be preserved as a magnificent work of public art for future generations and used, as the artist intended, as a way of teaching history."

The 600-member association is asking with the suit that the board rescind its vote to remove the mural from public view and conduct the environmental review.

"Unless it does so, we will ask the court to issue an order to set aside the Board's unstudied action that would cause egregious loss to current and future students at George Washington High School and damage the public's interest in protecting public art," said Lope Yap Jr., the association's vice president.

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