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New school board recall group launched with $350,000 from tech investor Arthur Rock

A new committee dedicated to removing school board members Alison Collins, Faauuga Moliga and President Gabriela Lopez from their positions received a $350,000 donation from retired venture capitalist Arthur Rock, campaign finance filings show.

“Concerned Parents Supporting the Recall of Collins, Lopez, and Moliga” filed its organization papers on Nov. 15, with Todd David, executive director of the Housing Action Coalition and local public school parent, as its principal officer. 

The committee joins a growing chorus of recall supporters, including the original recall campaign group, ‘Committee to Support the Recall of Board of Education Commissioners, Lopez, Collins, and Moliga,’ which filed their papers back on March 24 and led the signature gathering campaign to put the recall on the ballot. That committee has raised about $644,000 from numerous donors, including $49,500 from Rock.

Recall backers say the board has betrayed students by focusing on things like renaming schools, even as the district lagged far behind others in bringing back in-person instruction during the pandemic. Supporters of the board say the recall is politically motivated and underwritten by charter school supporters.

David, who gave $2,500 to the new committee and is currently the only donor other than Rock, said that the two recall committees “will be collaborating with each other” and his organization’s intention is to concentrate on messaging around the recall. His group has already produced two campaign ads. 

“We see our roles as complementary,” David said. “We’re focusing on messaging and media to complement the great signature campaign and other grassroots work Autumn’s committee has done,” he added, referring to recall leader Autumn Looijen.

A new entrant focused on messaging may have come at an opportune time. The recall campaign has garnered criticism for what many describe as a politically tone-deaf campaign video featuring a parent playing the character of ‘Gaybraham Lincoln’ along with recall leaders Looijen and Siva Raj. 

The ad was singled out by District 5 Supervisor and outspoken recall opponent Dean Preston as “one worth sharing because it does more harm than good to their cause.”

Rock is a major supporter of Teach for America, a nonprofit which recruits college graduates to teach at at-risk public and charter schools, and is a strong advocate for non-profit charter schools. He helped fund the 2018 campaign of former charter school executive Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and gave to a committees active in the 2020 Oakland School Board race

Rock declined to comment.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the two campaign committees “would not communicate with each other.”