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'We Failed Our Children'; Mayor Breed Focusing On Student Welfare In Selection Of School Board Replacements

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Mayor London Breed took to the national talk show circuit over the weekend to give some insight into her selection process for replacing three recalled school board members who were voted out of office last week.

SF Board of Education President Gabriella Lopez, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and member Alison Collins were overwhelmingly swept from office by voters dissatisfied with delays in getting kids back into the classroom during the pandemic. While private schools in San Francisco returned to in-class instruction, the city's public schools lagged months behind.

"We failed our children," Breed said on Meet The Press. "Parents were upset. The city as a whole was upset, and the decision to recall school board members was a result of that."

Now, Breed has to name three new members to the board of seven who oversee the public school system.

"I'm going to be looking for people that are going to focus on the priorities of the school district and not on politics, and not on what it means to run for office, and stepping stones, and so on and so forth," she said. "We need people who want to be on the school board to make a difference, and who meet those qualifications to do the job."

She said she has already been talking with parents about what they want.

"I've been talking to parents for the past couple weeks," she said. "And what they want is someone who is going to focus on the basic fundamental responsibility of members of the school board. And that is making sure that children get the education that they need in our schools, dealing with the challenges of learning loss, dealing with the mental health challenges that exist."

As the pandemic lingered and the strains of remote learning mounted daily on students and parents, Breed -- like many San Franciscans -- lost faith in the board leadership.

"At the end of the day, our kids were not in school," she said. "And they should've been. And kids were home suffering. The stories that I heard about children who went from being these bubbly, exciting kids to not even smiling, to being depressed, the increase in the number of suicide attempts and other things that exist, that is the fundamental problem here."

But politicians on both sides of the aisle are very publicly drawing their own conclusions.

"You've got a democracy. If the people have spoken, take note of it," said Siva Raj, a San Francisco parent and co-founder of Recall SF School Board..

Parent organizers believe some have failed to get the message.

"Don't be mistaken, white supremacists are enjoying this and the support of the recall is aligned with this" recalled board president Gabriella Lopez tweeted.

Breed said it was time to stop listening to Lopez.

"And the fact that we're still even listening to any of the recalled school board members is definitely a problem," she said. "Again, we should be focused on the parents. We should be focused on the school district and the challenges that these kids have faced. And that's the biggest problem."

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