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School & District Management

San Francisco School Board Pauses Renaming 44 Schools, Promises to Consult Historians

By Greg Keraghosian, SFGate, San Francisco — February 22, 2021 1 min read
A pedestrian walks below a sign for Dianne Feinstein Elementary School in San Francisco, on Dec. 17, 2020. The San Francisco Unified School District put the renaming of 44 schools, including Dianne Feinstein Elementary School, on hold after local and national blowback.
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The renaming of 44 schools in the San Francisco Unified School District is apparently being put on hold after intense local and national blowback.

In a statement first released in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday, SF school board president Gabriela López said it would make reopening schools during the pandemic the “only focus,” and that renaming committee meetings will be cancelled for now.

(SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of one another.)

In response to widespread criticism that the school board had not consulted historians before the near-unanimous decision, Lopez promised a “more deliberative process moving forward, which includes engaging historians at nearby universities to help” with future name-change discussions.

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“I acknowledge and take responsibility that mistakes were made in the renaming process,” Lopez said in her statement.

The school board approved three weeks ago the renaming of schools in seeking to exclude affiliations with racism, slavery, colonization and other troubled legacies. The namesakes included presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others. The historical explanations for removing their varied widely and were roundly judged as flawed. (See SFGATE’s story on the decision for more details.)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed condemned the renaming decision for its timing: “What I cannot understand is why the School Board is advancing a plan to have all these schools renamed by April, when there isn’t a plan to have our kids back in the classroom by then,” she said after the board’s decision.

Since the school board’s decision, Lopez has struggled to justify the move in interviews. The Chronicle also reported Sunday that Lopez and two other board members are facing a recall petition.

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Copyright (c) 2021, SFGate, San Francisco. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.

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