Parents call for stability ahead of third potential Board of Ed leadership change in ten months



SAN FRANCISCO, CA 01/10/2023 – Later today, the San Francisco Board of Education will hold its first meeting of 2023, with a newly composed board following November’s election. Parents are keeping a close watch for the Board to follow through with its commitment of focusing on student outcomes at fifty percent of every meeting, yet we fear that tonight too much of the meeting will center on adult interests with a leadership challenge starting out the meeting. After three tumultuous years for parents and students across our district, we had hoped the drama and controversies would be behind us so we can return to what really matters: how SFUSD can best serve its 50,000 students. Instead, we’ve headed into a new unnecessary distraction—a potential leadership change—which, if successful, would be the Board’s third change in just 10 months, and fourth for SFUSD, with the new superintendent Dr. Wayne taking over during the summer of 2022. This is not normal, nor is it good for students.

Parents are calling for stability and a focus on our students, and putting adult self-interests aside. Under president Jenny Lam’s initial and partial term of leadership, the Board has finally begun to earn back the trust and confidence of SFUSD families, spearheading a renewed commitment to student outcomes and good governance. Under her short tenure we’ve already seen a balanced budget passed, an incredible student-centered superintendent hired, and a new vision for the district created that re-focuses the board on student learning. 

SFUSD parent and Board Member of SF Parent Coalition, Yvette Edwards, said about the challenge: “[The Board] promised families that this would be a different time and that your focus would be what is in the best interest of children. These children depend on you … they don’t need your drama and neither do we. Why make this unnecessary change at a time when there are so many real issues and concerns that deserve your focus? If the answer begins with “I want…”, may I suggest you try again?”

President Lam is one of four incredible current public school moms currently serving on the Board. And yet tonight we might see that very mom ousted from her role, replaced by two men without children currently in the district. Lam has only had a partial term, after stepping up to fill Gabriela López’s second presidency term, post recall election. 

SFUSD parent Susan Wong emailed the Board of Education and Dr. Wayne, sharing: “I believe that it is important that a public school parent is represented in board leadership. Jenny Lam is a mom with students in the District. Also, she is the only AAPI representative on the Board. Forty percent of the District’s students are AAPI. Her representation is important to me. … Keep Jenny Lam as President of the school board. She has done an excellent job and deserves a full term as president…. A public school mom like Jenny Lam has insights into the trials and tribulations of SFUSD schools which support wise decision-making as Board President.”

Representation is important. Moms are powerful leaders and SF Parent Coalition supports having a mom in leadership of SFUSD. Unlike the commissioners challenging her leadership, she is also an SFUSD parent. Though the Board has four incredible current public school moms to choose from, instead we could end up with a result tonight that would leave four men without children at SFUSD in charge of the district: Board of Education President, Vice President, Superintendent, and Chief of Staff.

Parents need certainty in the district, not the destabilization and distrust that would result from a third presidency in ten months and adults jockeying for power. We cannot see a reversal to the Board of the past. Parents want stability, parents want representation in Board leadership, parents want leaders focused on the kids, not their own self-interests.