The San Francisco Unified School District’s Board of Education just can’t seem to steer clear of national headline-grabbing controversy these days. But its latest move might be worthy of the championship trophy.
What gives now?
At Tuesday’s board meeting, a gay parent named Seth Brenzel was supposed to be appointed to the Parent Advisory Council, KGO-TV reported.
But alas, it was not to be.
Brenzel, as you can see, is white — and that wasn’t flying with the board, which rejected Brenzel over his race, the station said.
The current makeup of the all-women PAC is as follows, according to KGO:
- Three Latinas
- Three whites
- Two blacks
- One Asian
- One Pacific Islander
School Board Commissioner Alison Collins strongly advocated that the council — which advises the board on issues that affect students and parents — needed to be more racially diverse, the station said.
“In a district that has so many monolingual families and specifically so many Chinese-speaking families, this is not OK to me,” Collins noted, according to KGO.
About 33% of SFUSD students are Asian, 28% are Latino, 15% are white, and 6% are black, the station said.
Brenzel would have been the only man on the council — and the board argued that adding a white male in particular would tip the balance, making whites the “dominating race” on the PAC, the station added.
“It’s actually about who has a voice in our public schools, and public schools are the cornerstone of our democracy,” Commissioner Matt Alexander said, according to KGO.
What was the council’s reaction to the board’s decision?
The station said PAC members were surprised at the board’s decision, especially since no board members previously questioned their selections.
The council members did attempt to defend their selection of Brenzel at the meeting, KGO noted.
Michelle Jacques-Menegaz, who serves on the PAC, said “the fact that he brings diversity to our group in other ways, as many people brought up last night, I think was one of the factors that we considered,” the station reported.
While Commissioner Mark Sanchez said, “We need qualified people, and we need representation,” KGO reported that he took the matter off the table and let people of color apply after sensing he lacked votes. But Sanchez noted that he hopes Brenzel will apply again, the station said.
“He’s gay, that’s an important voice that we don’t have right now, and he’s a man,” Sanchez told KGO. “There are no males on the committee, and I’m really looking forward to having his name brought back to us in a month or two and voting on it with a slate of other folks.”
PAC members told the station that they’ve heard from a number of potential candidates interested in joining the council following Tuesday’s meeting, the station noted.