SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Vincent Matthews announced Wednesday he was stepping down from his post amid an ongoing and contentious battle over reopening the city’s public schools for in-class instruction.

Matthews, who became superintendent in 2017, made the announcement just days after the district reached a deal with teachers’ union to reopen schools for K-5 students in April. Middle and high school reopenings have not yet been determined.

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His decision also comes two days after a group of SFUSD parents, frustrated that schools remain closed for in-person learning, proposed doing away with elections for Board of Education commissioners and instead moving to an appointment-based system.

In a prepared statement, Matthews said he was announcing his retirement “with a heavy heart” and that it would become effective on June 30, 2021.

“Though it saddens me to leave at a time when our district is already experiencing so many destabilizing hardships brought on by this pandemic, after much reflection, I believe this is the right time,” said Matthews. “There are many new commissioners on the SF Board of Education and I want them to have the opportunity to select a new superintendent who is aligned with their approach.”

Parents and city leaders have continued to express frustration over the continued closures of the city’s public schools, which have now reached the one-year mark, even as private schools in the city and public schools in other counties have reopened.

The school board faced more criticism in January when it voted to rename 44 schools by April in a process that was seen as flawed and perceived to be at the expense of working on school reopenings. In addition, the city filed a lawsuit last month to further compel the district and school board to prioritize the return of in-person learning.

 

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