SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Mayor London Breed on Wednesday offered some sharp criticism of the timing as the San Francisco Unified School District moved forward with a plan to change the names of 44 schools named after problematic historical figures by April.

The amendment to the renaming resolution initially approved in May of 2018 was passed by a 6-1 vote during the Tuesday SFUSD board meeting. The amendment provided a list of 44 schools proposed for name changes.

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Among the schools on the list were Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Lowell high schools, James Lick and Roosevelt middle schools and Alvarado, Bryant and Dianne Feinstein elementary schools.

According to the amendment, the district would commit “to changing names of schools named for historical figures who engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide; or who otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

A panel of community leaders has “forwarded the names of more than 40 school sites for potential renaming to District leadership with an end date of April 19, 2021 for suggested new names to be reviewed by the panel, at which time the panel will make its final recommendations for new names to the Board of Education.”

Mayor Breed’s statement acknowledged the significance of a school’s name, but criticized the timing given that San Francisco students have been in distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic since last March.

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“This is an important conversation to have, and one that we should involve our communities, our families, and our students,” Breed said in the released statement. “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.”

Breed pointed out that San Francisco students are suffering due to the pandemic and distance learning.

“We should be talking about getting them in classrooms, getting them
mental health support, and getting them the resources they need in this challenging time,” Breed said. “Our families are frustrated about a lack of a plan, and they are especially frustrated with the fact that the discussion of these plans weren’t even on the agenda for last night’s School Board meeting.”

Breed asked that the board have “the same urgency and focus on getting our kids back in the classroom, and then we can have that longer conversation about the future of school names.”

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Breed has previously pushed back on plans by the district to rename dozens of schools over namesakes deemed objectionable, saying reopening classrooms should be the top priority. In October of last year, she called the effort “offensive.”