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Longtime SF school board member ousted ahead of superintendent pick

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Jill Wynns stands outside the San Francisco Unified School District building on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. (Yesica Prado/Special to S.F. Examiner.)

The San Francisco Board of Education will meet for the first time in more than two decades without Commissioner Jill Wynns this January following her upset at the polls on election night.

Wynns won a seat on the school board in every election since 1992 until Tuesday, when voters decided they would rather have new blood and other returning members represent the San Francisco Unified School District.

Wynns lost her seat to make room for San Francisco native and startup CEO Stevon Cook and Mark Sanchez, a former president of the school board. Incumbents Rachel Norton and board President Matt Haney were also re-elected.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” said Wynns, who spent her time on the board as an outspoken opponent of charter schools and the Teach For America organization, as well as an advocate for the controversial Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.

Despite her experience, Wynns fell out of favor with the United Educators of San Francisco because of her past support for former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who was known to have created divisiveness on the school board and with the teachers union in the early 2000s.

UESF, which represents teachers and paraprofessionals in the SFUSD, did not endorse Wynns the last three times she ran for school board including this year.

The issue re-emerged because this election determined who will be on the school board when the next superintendent is chosen before next school year.

As of Thursday afternoon, unofficial election results showed Wynns had received just over 10 percent of the vote or about 67,000 votes, falling short of the 14 percent of the vote that Norton received to remain on the school board.

“This didn’t seem to be a good election for older white women, lifelong children advocates,” Wynns said in reference to Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss to Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Wynns plans to continue working with a statewide project called Funding The Next Generation, which attempts to boost local education funding through ballot measures and other initiatives.

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