Alison Collins, a candidate for the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education, speaks at a forum at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood Center on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Alison Collins sues school board colleagues after facing backlash over tweets

School board member Alison Collins is suing her fellow board members after they cast a vote of no confidence in her last week over controversial tweets she sent in 2016.

Collins filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday against the San Francisco Unified School District, City and County of San Francisco and the five board members who supported the resolution against her, alleging violations of her free speech and due process rights, among other causes of action.

Collins is seeking $12 million from each defendant and $3 million from each board member defendant. Only Collins and school board President Gabriela Lopez voted against the resolution last Thursday to strip her of her title as vice president and committee assignments over the tweets.

The other board members, Jenny Lam, Faauuga Moliga, Kevine Boggess, Matt Alexander and Mark Sanchez, each supported the resolution and are named as defendants.

The lawsuit also seeks a court order restoring Collins to her positions on the board.

The lawsuit alleges the board members “lit their torches” and sprinted to judgment when Collins refused to resign over the tweets, in which she criticized Asian Americans for using “white supremacist thinking to ‘get ahead’” and for buying into the “model minority” stereotype.

“Defendants reckless, intentional, and malicious slanderous comments have cause, and is continuing to cause clear and present danger, harm, and injuries to Ms. Collins, her husband and children,” the lawsuit reads.

The tweets were resurfaced by supporters of the effort to recall Collins and other school board members on the same week that shootings at spas in Georgia killed eight people, including six Asian women, amid heightened attention to racism against Asian Americans.

The resolution at issue was introduced by Moliga and Lam.

“Commissioner Collins’ statements were not only hurtful but racist and I am calling it for what it is,” Moliga said before the vote. “These past few days have been heartbreaking for our communities. We cannot endeavor to build a safe space if the trust between our leaders and those who serve is broken.”

Collins faced calls to resign from most of San Francisco’s power structure over the tweets, but gained support from some groups including the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Collins has apologized for the pain the tweets caused but said they were taken out of context. Though her opponents criticized her statements as a non-apology, she apologized again last at the school board meeting.

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