Letter to BOE re: CVRA Litigation

San Francisco Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Matt Wayne
San Francisco Unified School District
555 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

Dear SFUSD Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Wayne,

We are writing to urge you to move cautiously and consult additional experts before taking action on the proposed Board of Education resolution in response to the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) litigation threats. As a parent advocacy group representing families from across every neighborhood of the city, we are deeply concerned that an abrupt move to district election of school board members, with no public examination of legal requirements and without any input from SFUSD stakeholders, is both detrimental to students and contrary to District policy. 

SFUSD faces mounting challenges in the coming years with massive implications for our 50,000 public school students: budget shortfalls, declining enrollment, and a long overdue overhaul of literacy and math curriculum. We share your concern that litigation may be costly and distracting from these pressing priorities. However, rushing to shift to district elections in response to an out-of-town lawyer’s threats will not shield the District from litigation, and it may prompt legal challenges from San Francisco residents who belong to the very groups protected by the CVRA and who may be harmed by this change. In addition, the process of shifting to district elections in a matter of months will also be costly, time-consuming, and hugely distracting.

Moreover, changing the electoral system in response to this lawsuit may not necessarily guarantee compliance with the CVRA. At-large school board elections have produced more non-white elected officials than San Francisco’s district-elected supervisors. Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latinos are represented at higher percentages on the Board than in the general public. San Francisco goes beyond almost any other school district in the country by successfully extending the right to vote for school board members to non-citizen parents. We support the goal of maintaining a diverse and representative school board, but we see no evidence that transitioning to district elections would bring us any closer to this goal than we already are.

We are not opposed to the merits of potential alternative methods to elections for the Board of Education. We are, however, opposed to SFUSD succumbing to a blackmail lawsuit that may have no legal standing and may not apply here, that seems to have come out of a rivalry between two out-of-town lawyers, and that will have potentially enormous implications with unforeseen impacts on our district and our public school children for years to come. 

We are also opposed to the district making such an impactful decision without seeking input and feedback from the community. Discussions and decisions on the right to vote must include parents and other San Francisco stakeholders. We appreciate that the District has sought to improve transparency and accountability over the past several months – and we hope you will approach this issue with those values in mind.   

We implore you to stand firm against this predatory lawsuit, to leverage the outpouring of expertise and support to defend the integrity of our current electoral process, and continue to remain focused on the critical work of educating our children. 


Meredith Dodson
SF Parents Executive Director & SFUSD Parent

Yvette Edwards
SF Parent Action Board, SF Parent Coalition Board, & SFUSD Parent 

Clifford Yee
SF Parent Coalition Board & SFUSD Parent

Jennie Herriot Hatfield
SF Parent Coalition Board & SFUSD Parent

Seth Brenzel 
SF Parent Coalition Board 

Alex Wong
SF Parent Action Board & SFUSD Parent

Amanda Kahn Fried
SF Parent Action Board

Nadia Rahman
SF Parent Action Board

Max Garrone
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent

Susan Fong Wong
SF Parents Leadership Council & Parent of recent SFUSD Graduates

Gerald Kanapathy
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent

Uma Chingunde
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent

Chanel Blackwell
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent

Stephanie Falkenstein
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent

Sara Meskin
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent

Autumn Brown Garibay
SF Parents Leadership Council & SFUSD Parent