Thursday, February 25, 2021

San Francisco may face lawsuit over move to rename schools honoring Lincoln, Washington

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A former US federal attorney sent the city of San Francisco a letter warning that a lawsuit may be brewing over the move to rename 44 schools honoring so-called “racist” figures, the Post has learned.

The letter from the law offices of Paul Scott claims the city’s school board violated public meeting laws under the Brown Act when it passed the measure — which scraps schools named after Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson — last week, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Post.

Scott proclaims that the board faces potential legal action if it doesn’t reverse the decision to rename schools honoring historic figures who aided in alleged oppression.

“As litigation regarding the board’s determination may otherwise ensue by legitimately frustrated San Francisco residents, I would respectfully request that… the city attorney be asked to review the points set forth in this letter and issue an opinion, so the school board will have an opportunity, if appropriate, to reconsider its course of action,” Scott wrote to the city’s mayor, London Breed, on Monday.

Scott — a veteran trial attorney who once worked for the U.S. Department of Justice — then makes the case that the board failed to properly notify residents that there would be a vote on the renaming measure, citing a 2005 case as a precedent.

“The notice provided to San Francisco residents by the School Board was similarly inadequate and misleading, for it did not make clear that the purpose of the January 26, 2021 hearing was to make a final determination on whether the 44 school names would be changed, let alone all at once.”

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The legal backlash comes after San Francisco residents last week banned together to stop the city from changing the school names, with hundreds of school alumni writing letters and signing a petition.

On Thursday, Lope Yap — who opposes the board’s claim that Lincoln was discriminatory and damaging to Native Americans — cheered the letter penned by Scott.

“The Brown Act lawsuit letter is just one of the many reasons why the school district needs new leadership,” he said, adding the school district was sued by the city for failing to reopen classes earlier this week.

“The name change is just one of the symptoms that has come from poor leadership,” said Yap, who is the vice president of San Francisco’s George Washington high school alumni association.

A spokesman San Francisco’s City attorney Dennis Herrera didn’t immediately return a a call from the Post Thursday. A rep for the mayor’s office didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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