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Supporters Rally Behind Ann Hsu as SF School Leaders Prepare to Formally Admonish Her

Written by Han LiPublished Aug. 02, 2022 • 6:30am
Ann Hsu speaks during a press conference held by the Chinese/API Voter Outreach Taskforce on the steps of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on Jan. 14, 2021. | Beth LaBerge/KQED

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San Francisco’s public school board will decide Tuesday whether to formally admonish one of its commissioners over her remarks stereotyping Black and Latino communities.

Board members will vote on Ann Hsu’s censure—which would be largely a symbolic gesture—at a special meeting Tuesday night. Hsu is expected to attend in what would be her first board appearance since the controversy unfolded a little more than two weeks ago.

In a prepared statement, SFUSD leaders said Hsu’s comments “undermine and run counter to” the board’s values and are “hurtful and perpetuate harmful stereotypes.” 

Meanwhile, a joint letter with more than 300 signatures from Hsu’s supporters asked that the school board member—who was appointed earlier this year by Mayor London Breed—stay in office. The statement pushes back against calls from a number of public officials who have demanded that Hsu step down.

The controversy about Hsu centers on her answer to a candidate questionnaire in which she said she sees one of the biggest challenges for SFUSD as the “lack of family support for those students” in the “Black and brown” community.

In her supporters’ joint letter, the signatories said they know Hsu as a person of integrity and believe she said what she did without malice.

“We believe driving Ann from office would be a disproportionate consequence, unfair to those who are counting on her to make San Francisco public schools better,” read the letter signed by former supervisor Tony Hall, Matt Gonzalez and many Asian American community members.

The Split Call

Hsu has been relatively quiet in the weeks since the controversy erupted. But to date, she has made no indication that she plans to resign or discontinue her campaign to keep her seat in the November election.

On July 27, after a night of contentious public comments and debate, the DCCC—the 33-member board of the Democratic Party’s San Francisco chapter—voted 13-1-9 to pass the resolution urging Hsu to step down. Ten board members were absent. 

“The San Francisco Democratic Party stands firmly with the Black community in ensuring that the San Francisco Board of Education is free of racial bias and animus,” the resolution read.

While Hsu has issued an apology, she still received strong criticism for her remarks. In addition to the Democratic Party, the local chapter of the NAACP as well as multiple supervisors have joined the calls for her to step down.

Janice Li, a Chinese American immigrant and a DCCC member, abstained even though she agreed that Hsu should resign, but she thought the situation should prompt more conversation instead of deepening divisions.

See Also

“I believe that voting ‘yes’ will truthfully impede my ability to be a leader in the DCCC,” Li said, and it will also prevent the opportunity to educate her “own Chinese community and build spaces for cross-racial healing.”

Ann Hsu speaks at a pro-merit-based admission system for Lowell High School rally outside the San Francisco Unified School District building in San Francisco Calif., on Thursday, June 16, 2022. | Ben Fanjoy for The Standard

Last March, DCCC also passed a resolution with an 18-5 vote to urge then-school board member Alison Collins to resign over her controversial tweets, which invoked offensive language about the Asian American community.

Nancy Tung, who led the resolution last year to ask Collins to step down, was the lone “no” vote against the resolution on Hsu’s resignation because she believes the two incidents are “qualitatively different.”

“I see commissioner Hsu doing the work to try to address her implicit bias, address the lack of understanding between communities,” Tung said, emphasizing that Hsu has made an effort to repair the harm, while Collins “did not communicate with me.” 

Tung, elected in 2020 to the DCCC, will join District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ Office next week as a chief staffer.

The SFUSD meeting on the admonishment starts at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The public can observe remotely via Zoom.

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Han Li can be reached at [email protected]


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