Claudia DeLarios Morán, principal of Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 School, is seen here inside the school’s small gym just before the launch of a program providing overnight housing for students and their families in July of 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Teachers protest after Mission District principal abruptly placed on leave

Faculty fear investigation could be retaliation for social activism, push for better services

Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Principal Claudia DeLarios Moran has been placed on administrative leave, apparently without explanation to staff and parents, the San Francisco Examiner has learned.

Faculty at the school have indicated that the San Francisco Unified School District has launched an investigation into DeLarios Moran, though the nature of the investigation is unclear. Some fear DeLarios Moran’s removal comes in retaliation for her advocacy for underserved students and families as well as around civil rights issues, including participation in protests.

“Our concern is the extremely punitive reaction by the district as this investigation is going on,” said Frank Lara, an educator at the school. “We respect the procedure, [but] we feel that in this process, the fact that she was placed on administrative leave, we feel was retaliatory against the things she has achieved.”

While the School District did not comment on a potential investigation, SFUSD Spokesperson Laura Dudnick confirmed Friday that DeLarios Moran “is on leave from BVHM as of Wednesday.” She said that DeLarios Moran’s removal is “unrelated to BVHM participating in a recent protest,” referring to a Sept. 16 march for immigrant rights in the Mission District.

According to Lara, DeLarios Moran was reprimanded for the school’s participation in the action.

“The district cannot share more information about the reasons for her leave given our obligation to uphold confidentiality for students and staff,” said Dudnick. “We know this is very challenging news for the school community. There is a team of administrators working closely with the school to support students and staff in Ms. Moran’s absence.”

DeLarios Moran, a former vice principal at the Mission District school, has led some 50 educators there for the past two years.

Lara said in a Facebook post on Friday that “staff was given no information as to why this is happening or when she will return.”

“We have no timeline or contact person for resolution of this issue,” he said.

Lara added that turnover at the school has been high in the nine years since the school opened. The school has been led by four different principals.

DeLarios Moran is the “only leader that has stayed for more than three years,” said Lara, who described her as a tireless “advocate for educational equity and the needs of all students” who is “indispensable” to the school’s community.

Last year she led the school through the launch of an overnight shelter program for homeless families, located inside of the school’s gym. An estimated 60 BVHM families faced housing insecurity last year and 26 were identified as imminently homeless, a social worker at the school told the Examiner previously.

“She has gotten a lot of heat for that,” said Lara. “The fact that the school has been on marches that strongly stand up for civil rights and justice…and recently we have been advocating for facility upgrades and services — we got heat for that.”

Lara added that DeLarios Moran “has received many indications that she is pushing too hard” and that “she should let the system work.”

“But if we look at all the data, it’s not working for our school,” he said, adding that BVHM’s student population is largely Latino with a high proportion of homeless students.

According to Lara, former BVHM principal Jennifer Steiner has temporarily stepped in to manage the school’s operations for the next two weeks. It is unclear who will lead the school after that, he said.

Believing that DeLarios Moran’s absence “will cause direct harm to our community and students,” BVHM staff are protesting her removal by refusing to work unpaid overtime hours starting next week.

They also plan to rally at 24th and Mission streets at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday and again at a school board hearing at 555 Franklin St. scheduled for Nov. 12.

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