SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Some parents fed up with the lack of in-person learning in San Francisco are demanding the recall of school board members in their effort to get their children back into schools.
Weeks have turned into months as students in San Francisco approach one year of distance-learning since the beginning of the pandemic. The patience of parents is wearing thin.
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Students and their parents calling for a return to classrooms are turning to new ways to let the SFUSD board know their feelings, and that includes a petition to recall the school board president
Parents like Monica Scott say they are at the end of their rope.
"The school board has definitely let us down," said Scott.
Scott told KPIX 5 something needs to change with the way SFUSD does business. That was a common sentiment at the latest "Zoom-in" protest being held Monday calling for students to return to class. They want that to be the main focus for the school board.
"Well, the level of frustration is high," said parent Dheya Ni.
Last Friday, one group of parents has launched a recall effort of the School Board President Gabriela Lopez and board members Alison Collins and Faauuga Moliga. An online petition already has more than 1,200 signatures. Dheya Ni said she is considering adding hers.
"We need to have someone who works on behalf of our children and families, because right now the right of education is being violated," said Ni.
It has been almost one year since students started distance learning. Since then, it has taken its toll -- especially on underprivileged kids and communities of color. Parents said returning to the way kids learn best should be the school boards focus, not things like renaming schools that sit empty.
"There has not been enough attention paid to this issue there," said Scott. "It should've been addressed as soon as possible and there have just been a lot of distractions from what I think is the most important thing, which is focusing on opening our school safely."
KPIX reached out to the board for a comment but have not heard back. Lopez did issue a statement Sunday night via Twitter, saying, "There have been many distracting public debates as we've been working to reopen our schools, school renaming has been one of them. ... I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process."
With no input from historians or the public, relying only on casual Google searches, the district's renaming panel compiled a list of schools to be changed. That list included Lincoln and Washington High Schools and Roosevelt Middle School, although the panel seemed unsure whether it was named for Teddy or FDR.
The issue has brought ridicule onto the city from news reports and commentators across the country. SF school board reform advocate Joel Engardio says the public is fed up.
"The process that was used was so deeply flawed and it was exposed but the school board knew about it and voted for it and stood by it," Engardio said. "That feeds the outrage that people across the city have about the school board, especially when they spent so much time focused on the renaming and not the matter at hand which is safely reopening the schools. That's why people are so mad."
Lopez also said her statement would her comment on the subject of renaming until schools have reopened.
"I say, very good! I say it's about time," said SFUSD parent Ivan Anastassov. "It was a waste of time when people have children that can't go back to school…that haven't set foot in school for nearly a year."
"I will always honor names like Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, so I still don't understand the psychology behind that," said Fahd Bendani. He lives in the neighborhood near Lowell High School, another school suggested for renaming. But he thinks even if no one admits it, the threats of a recall may be having an impact.
"It is a position where being liked by the community and being popular is very important, so maybe it's a sign that your popularity may be at risk," said Bendani.
John Ramos contributed to this story.
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