San Francisco Board of Education

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The San Francisco Board of Education is made of seven Commissioners, elected by voters across the city to serve 4-year terms. It is subject to local, state, and federal laws, and determines policy for all the public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District.


As of July 2018, the current members of the Board of Education are:[1]

Former members of the Board of Education include:



In October 1849, John C. Pelton opened a school in a Baptist church in San Francisco, depending entirely upon voluntary donations and tuition for funding. It was free only to poor children. In 1850, the city council came to his assistance and adopted an ordinance making it free public school for all children, a first in California. In 1851, the school was reorganized under an ordinance providing for a San Francisco Board of Education and a Superintendent.[31]

Japanese segregation[edit]

In 1906, the San Francisco Board of Education prohibited 93 Japanese American and Korean American students from attending public schools. A compromise was reached whereby the students would be allowed into the schools and the Japanese government would stop issuing passports for laborers to the United States.[32]

Response to 1906 earthquake[edit]

On April 18, 1906, the morning after the 1906 earthquake, members of the Board of Education, including Aaron Altmann, David Oliver, Thomas F. Boyle, and Lawrence F. Walsh, Superintendent Alfred Roncovieri, Secretary E. C. Leffingwell, along with and all employees of the Department, reported at the repair shop of the Board of Education at corner Pine and Larkin streets to rebuild.

The group spent the next two days guarding SFUSD property, checking up on teachers, and ensuring that all of their employees had proper shelter.

Out of a total of 74 school buildings controlled by the SFUSD in 1906, 29 were destroyed by fire, and many of the remainder were seriously damaged by the severity of the earthquake. The Girls' High School, located at Scott and O'Farrell streets, was totally wrecked by the temblor. Mission High School, located at Eighteenth and Dolores streets was badly damaged as well.[33]

The Oriental School was also opened after the 1906 earthquake to solely serve children of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese descent.

Arlene Ackerman Era[edit]

Arlene Ackerman arrived in SFUSD in mid-2000 and immediately began cleaning up the financial affairs of a school district marred by fiscal scandal under her predecessor Bill Rojas. Her efforts resulted in arrests of alleged perpetrators who had been looting school-district coffers,[34][35] as well as the exposure of alleged schemes impacting other school districts nationwide.[36]

But a faction on the school board and in the community—far-left "progressive" and Green Party members—soon became hostile to Superintendent Ackerman.[37][38]

Her critics claimed that Ackerman had opposed efforts by the City's Youth Commission to address sexual assaults in the public schools and that Ackerman ordered staffers to not talk to the press.[39] Due to her efforts to maintain fiscal discipline in an era of tight finances, Ackerman's relations with the teachers' union, United Educators of San Francisco, became strained.

Ackerman remained popular with community and parent leaders .[40] The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized in support of Ackerman. "Her understated but firm demeanor -- and her focus on the classroom -- is producing results," the Chronicle said in an editorial. "A school superintendent needs all the support he or she can get. What she doesn't need is sniping and second-guessing from elected officials whose job is to set broad policies, not micromanage the superintendent's daily conduct. Tensions between school board members and superintendents come with the territory. But in San Francisco, those tensions had gone far beyond the limits of acceptability. Three board members in particular -- Eric Mar, Sarah Lipson and Mark Sanchez—need to start working with Ackerman, not fighting with her virtually on a daily basis.” [41]

Ackerman won national acclaim for initiatives she implemented in San Francisco's schools, including extra support for low-performing schools; the "weighted student formula," in which funding followed each student in different amounts depending on the student's needs; and "site-based budgeting," which gave schools (as opposed to district bureaucrats) far more control over their own budgets.[42]

Toward the end of her tenure, Ackerman was given a large raise, which became highly controversial in included a salary of $250,000, a $4,000 monthly housing allowance, and a $375,000 severance package, by a 4-3 vote.[39] Ackerman could trigger by quitting whenever she wished, even though it was clear that her days were numbered. Eventually, the Board of Education was sued over the contract. Ackerman stated that the cost of her legal defense would cost the SFUSD more than her severance package was worth.[43]

Ackerman left the district in mid-2006 after six years .[44] Ackerman's interim successor was longtime SFUSD administrator Gwen Chan, who retired rather than pursue the superintendent's post on a permanent basis. Carlos Garcia was hired to replace Chan. Garcia has kept a low profile and has maintained good relations throughout the district, but many in San Francisco continue to resent the Green/Progressive attacks that drove Ackerman out.[citation needed]


In November 2006, the Board voted 4-2 to eliminate the JROTC program altogether in the entire city within two years,[45] stating that "armed forces should have no place in public schools, and the military's discriminatory stance on gays makes the presence of JROTC unacceptable."[46]

In December 2007, the School Board decided to continue JROTC for one more year so the JROTC task force could continue its search for a replacement program without punishing the current JROTC students.[47] A non-binding measure called Proposition V was placed on the 4 November 2008 general ballot in San Francisco that supported the reinstatement of the JROTC program in the City. The proposition passed. In May 2009, the school board voted to reinstate the program.[48] In June 2009, the San Francisco School board voted 4 to 3 in favor of reinstating physical education credit for students enrolled in JROTC.[49]


November 4, 2008 election[edit]

On November 4, 2008, San Francisco residents elected four new members to the Board from among fourteen candidates. The candidates were:

  • Harold Brown
  • James Calloway
  • Marigrace Cohen
  • Sandra Fewer
  • Omar Khalif
  • Alexander Young Lee
  • Barbara "Bobbi" Lopez
  • Jaynry Mak
  • Emily Murase
  • Rachel P. Norton
  • Kelly Wallace
  • Kimberly Wicoff
  • Jill Wynns
  • Norman Yee

The winners were Norman Yee, Sandra Lee Fewer, Jill Wynns, and Rachel Norton.

November 2, 2010 election[edit]

On November 2, 2010, San Francisco voters elected three new members to the Board from among eleven candidates running. The candidates were:

  • Jamie Rafaela Wolfe
  • Hydra Mendoza
  • Natasha Hoehn
  • Emily Murase
  • Omar Khalif
  • Margaret Brodkin
  • Kim-Shree Maufus
  • Tom Chan
  • Winifred Dajani
  • Bill Barnes
  • Starchild

The winners were Hydra Mendoza, Emily Murase, and Kim-Shree Maufus.


  1. ^ "Board of Education (SFUSD)". SFUSD. Retrieved 2018-07-28. 
  2. ^ a b c
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  5. ^ a b c d e f "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-07-04. Retrieved 2010-10-02. 
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  31. ^ Early History of California Public Schools
  32. ^ [1]|Asian American studies: a reader|Jean Yu-wen Shen Wu, Min Song|2000
  33. ^ Main Page America Hurrah
  34. ^ Knight, Heather (July 6, 2004). "SAN FRANCISCO / Schools chief learns tough lessons on fraud / Ackerman's 4 years of fear, frustration pay off in settlement". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  35. ^
  36. ^ SFGov: Office of the City Attorney: City Whistleblower Suit Nets $3.3 Million for S.F Archived 2008-01-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  37. ^ Knight, Heather (September 24, 2003). "3 S.F. school board members accused of plot on Ackerman". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  38. ^ Knight, Heather (September 25, 2003). "Schools chief in S.F. hints at quitting / Conflict with faction on board detracts from work, she says". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  39. ^ a b San Francisco Bay Guardian News
  40. ^ Arlene Acerman
  41. ^ Fighting
  42. ^ Acerman Must Go!
  43. ^ Knight, Heather (July 27, 2005). "SAN FRANCISCO / Schools chief is considering retirement / Conflicts with some board members worsening, she says". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  44. ^ Knight, Heather (September 7, 2005). "SAN FRANCISCO / Ackerman says she'll quit as schools chief / She and Board of Education agree they're incompatible". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  45. ^ Achs Freeling, Nicole (2006-11-15). "School Board Notes 11.14.06". Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  46. ^ Tucker, Jill (2006-11-15). "School board votes to dump JROTC program". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2006-12-29. 
  47. ^ Tucker, Jill (December 12, 2007). "SAN FRANCISCO / Board approves year extension for high schools' JROTC program / Classes allowed to count for physical education credit". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  48. ^ Jill Tucker (May 13, 2009). "S.F. school board votes to restore JROTC program". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  49. ^ Jill Tucker (June 10, 2009). "S.F. school board restores JROTC program". San Francisco Chronicle. 

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