The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga to replace Alison Collins as vice president in the wake of a controversy over 2016 tweets of hers about Asian Americans.
Moliga, appointed by Mayor London Breed in 2018 shortly before being elected, will serve as vice president for the remainder of the 2021 term. Board members voted 5-2 in March to strip Collins of her title and committee assignments in a vote of no confidence, which prompted Collins to file an $87 million suit against approving members.
“We have to move forward, we need leadership in place,” Moliga said. “We have a huge budget ahead of us, we’ve got to get all the kids in schools, teachers feeling safe, and we have to make sure that the board continues to stay strong and operate, you know, effectively.”
Collins, who called the experience “unusual” and “awkward,” contested Moliga as vice president. She alleged that he undermined female leadership on the board, which Moliga denied and called “super questionable.”
“It’s healthy for us to disagree,” Collins said. “But the way we disagree is important and that we do it professionally and that we do it transparently. I have some real concerns about his leadership, specifically.”
Board member Kevine Boggess moved to delay the vote to give people time to provide feedback, but the motion failed with just Collins and Board President Gabriela López supporting. In the end, only Collins voted against electing Moliga as vice president after he was nominated by Board member Jenny Lam.
“It’s very clear that this is a really hard time,” López said on Tuesday. “It is unfortunate but we are committed to strengthening our roles as commissioners and continue to work together.”
Moliga steps in as vice president at a difficult time for the board, when a recall effort is underway to remove Collins, Lopez and Moliga himself. Other board members are not yet eligible for recall.
Political opponents working on the recall dug up 2016 tweets of Collins, who is Black. The tweets began by calling out anti-Blackness among Asian Americans and went on to invoke the “model minority” and “tiger mom” stereotypes and use the derogatory term “house n——-” to refer to Asians.
A litany of calls to resign from much of The City’s political apparatus were the result. Lam and Moliga — who are Asian American and Pacific Islander, respectively, and were both appointed by Breed — were the only two on the school board to join the calls.
Collins apologized before the no-confidence vote but said her tweets were taken out of context – a response that drew further criticism.
Collins responded to the vote by filing suit against the San Francisco Unified School District and the five members who voted against her. The suit seeks $87 million in damages and alleges a violation of free speech and due process rights. It also alleges a conspiracy, noting that the resolution to strip Collins of her title brought forward by Lam and Moliga appeared on the agenda only one day before the vote.
Board members were also set to vote Tuesday on the terms of an amended contract for Superintendent Vincent Matthews, who agreed to postpone his resignation by one year after previously announcing in March that he would step down in June this year.
The updated contract includes terms requiring board members to strictly follow board rules and specifically names a board rule requiring resolutions to be introduced seven days in advance of a scheduled meeting and allowing the superintendent to determine if it’s in the board’s jurisdiction.
Collins’ suit will next be in court in July. Her supporters have maintained that she is an effective leader and that a restorative justice process is still needed.