A group of alumni have come together to sue the San Francisco school system in hopes of permanently blocking the possibility of allegedly “racist” names – including Abraham Lincoln and Dianne Feinstein – being removed from schools.
A lawsuit filed Thursday in the San Francisco County Superior Court against the San Francisco School Board and Superintendent Vincent Matthews demands that officials formally overturn the controversial renaming decision, claiming the city was wrong by not giving parishioners or historians a chance to win to complain.
Last month, school officials temporarily withdrew the school renaming plan amid public outrage, saying they would not rename the 44 schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But lawyers representing a group of alumni associations told The Post Friday that the walk-back was not legally binding.
The new lawsuit is designed to ensure the city keeps its word and follows legal protocols before any future name changes are made, said one of the attorneys, Paul Scott.
The renaming decision violates the Brown Act, according to which the school board must ensure that members of the community have a say in the matter, said Scott.
“The whole process itself was flawed because they decided whether or not to rename 44 schools with 30 minutes of public comment in one vote,” said Scott.
“Nobody was able to show up in person, and again, as I said, insufficient notification. So there were a number of issues with the process, ”the lawyer continued.
A group of alumni is suing the San Francisco School Board and Superintendent Vincent Matthews for revoking renaming of public schools with “racist” affiliations.
AP Photo / Jeff Chiu
Another alleged violation was the school board’s misrepresentation that an independent blue ribbon panel would consider changing the names of schools – the school board’s offenders were named after “racist, sexist, or oppressive” historical figures, including George Washington and Paul Revere.
“It wasn’t really independent. There was a lack of specialist knowledge. There were no historians on the committee and they ended up dictating what would happen before the school board even voted, ”Scott said.
In the lawsuit, school officials must tell the court whether they will overturn the renaming order and dissolve the committee by April 15.
“Reflecting on our national history and uplifting disadvantaged groups are both positive and necessary steps to achieve a level of social justice while reducing prejudice. They help us heal and move forward, ”the lawsuit reads.
“However, as with all of the major tests our society faces, it is critical that our solutions are considered fair in order for them to last. And in this context, nothing is more important than complying with the law and due process. “
The San Francisco School Board voted 6-1 in January to remove the names of Founding Fathers, Abolitionists, and even California’s longtime Democratic Senator from school buildings.
The move was widely planned as an overreach of “culture abandonment”. One group report found that the decisions were “arbitrary, subjective, superficial” and based on research gathered through “occasional Google searches”.
School officials had claimed Paul Revere should be canceled because the members didn’t like a benign top ten Revolutionary War list they saw on the History Channel, according to the Mission Local report.
Abraham Lincoln High School – named after the president who many historians consider the greatest in the country – was to be renamed after only five seconds of renaming, as it was labeled “discriminatory and harmful to Native Americans.”
Feinstein’s name should be removed from an elementary school because it replaced a Confederate flag that was removed by a protester when she was mayor of San Francisco.
Even the famous bohemian neighborhood of San Fran The Mission was unsuitable for adornment at a school because “all CA missions are places of slavery and colonization,” reported the school’s renaming committee.
“If you want to have a discussion about school names, it should be done in a context where there really is full and fair opportunities for public input, and it should come from individual school communities and individual school stakeholders,” said Scott.
“The parents, the teachers, the staff, the alumni – everyone has a fair opportunity to make contributions and decide whether they want to do so for their respective schools.”
Liberal law icon Laurence Tribe of Harvard University is among the lawyers who filed the lawsuit on Thursday.