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Concerns Raised Over Who Is and Isn't Allows to Serve on SFUSD's Parental Advisory Council

A group of parents and community members are raising concerns about who is allowed, and not allowed, to serve on the San Francisco Unified School District parental advisory council (PAC).

They say some of the current members’ blocked applicants partially because of their Asian background. Now, they’re calling for an investigation.

“The reason why PAC has a pattern 27 months ago and now again to reject parents, to exclude parents based on certain race, is because it’s built into its bylaws. It has major flaws to be allowed certain people to hijack it and block out other people,” said Josephone Zhao of San Francisco.

The district’s PAC is supposed to be made up of 18 parent volunteers. The council is funded by the school system and meets with the full school board once a month.

But for the last two years, it’s only had five members.

Selena Chu is one of them. So she was surprised last year when she said the group entered into closed session and rejected other parent applicants, some of whom she had tried to recruit.          

“We have four qualified Asian American parents who are applying for the PAC were denied. Out of so many seats that were available, it just doesn’t’ seem right to me,” said Chu.

Among those who were rejected is Zhao. And the rejection email she got from the schools staff coordinator for the council raised even more concerns. It read in part, “it is vital that the PAC be as representative as possible of the student population of SFUSD and we received more applications from our Chinese community than could be accommodated.”

Chu, and other community members, complained about the process. So for now, there are still only five members.

During the May 9 board meeting, commissioner Alida Fisher also voiced her concerns about the issues surrounding the council.

“We have to figure this out. If we want to improve student outcomes, we’ve got to engage with families,” said the SFUSD commissioner. “And right now, we have stifled all family engagement. We want to change adult behaviors? Give families better ways to engage.”

The school system has since been reviewing the parent selection process. In a letter, the district’s head of staff warned about the rules the committee should be following.

“District programs, activities, and practices must be free from discrimination on all of the following bases, including race,” said Marin Trujillo.

And during the May 9 meeting, the board decided to table the proposed slate, of only five members, for the parents advisory council. and the superintendent was ordered to review the way the council picks its members.

But council member Chu, and others, said they want a deeper investigation of the matter.

Chu says she plans to be at Tuesday’s meeting for public comment to make that clear.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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