Collins sues SF school district and fellow board commissioners

An embattled San Francisco school board commissioner is suing the school district after fellow commissioners of the board voted to remove her from a leadership position through a vote of no confidence last week. 

Allison Collins is the plaintiff in a complaint filed in court on Wednesday. She is seeking damages against the San Francisco Unified School District and five of her fellow commissioners. 

Collins held a rally surrounded by supporters and her attorneys on Wednesday. She said she is the target of a smear campaign. 

"I am a Black woman, I am a mother, I am an educator. All of these legacies mean that I have no choice but to fight," Collins said.

The suit says she is seeking some $80 million in damages. Her attorney Charles Bonner said she wants a written apology and that her words were misunderstood and were not racist. 

Jenny Lam, Faauuga Moliga, Matt Alexander, Kevin Boggess, and Mark Sanchez are all named in the document. Lam and Moliga co-authored last week's resolution that called for Collins to step down  and for her removal from board committees. Collins wants those roles restored within a week. 

The tensions arose when Collins' tweets from 2016 surfaced and were criticized for being anti-Asian at a critical time for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Collins has apologized  more than once and said she stood in solidarity with the AAPI community after calls for her resignation grew. 

California State Sen. Scott Wiener criticized Collins on social media and once again called for her resignation. "If Allison Collins even vaguely cares about educating San Francisco's kids, she'll stop suing the school district and her colleagues for $100M and instead resign." 

The suit seeks $3 million in punitive damages from each of the named board members, as well as another $12 million in general damages. 

Wiener in a follow up tweet says, "Apparently it’s unclear whether she is suing for $99M or $27M. Either way, she needs to cut it out." 

SF Supervisor Hillary Ronen tweeted, "As most public officials are trying to figure out how to reopen schools and fill SFUSD’s $100 million deficit, Commissioner Allison Collins is suing the District for $27 million. This is ridiculous. Allison just get out of the way!" 

Collins' lawsuit cites emotional distress, violations to her free speech rights and retaliation among other complaints. 

The turmoil comes as the school board faces a recall drive. They've been blamed for doing too little to get classrooms reopened as the pandemic has eased. 

Collins supporters say she rankled people when she pushed for equity and for a lottery admissions system at Lowell High School rather than merit-based admissions. 

One supporter at the rally said, "The reason they're picking on her is because she's a Black woman with power." 

KTVU's Debora Villalon contributed to this report.