SFUSD accused of exploiting loophole to receive reopening funds without reopening

With $12-million in school funding on the line, a group of state legislators is calling out the San Francisco Unified School District. They say the district took advantage of reopening dollars, without actually reopening in-person learning to enough students.

Legislators are calling SFUSD's reopening plan, a poor attempt to exploit a perceived legal loophole.

In fact, legislators are so concerned, they wrote a letter demanding State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and State Controller Betty Yee take action.

"I personally don't believe their plan qualifies for reopening funds according to AB86," says Assemblyman Philip Ting, who co-authored the letter.

Legislators believe SFUSD did the bare minimum to qualify for the funds.

The money was supposed to incentivize districts to return to in-person learning in ]May. Instead, the letter says the majority of middle and high school campuses remain closed.

"One, they didn't bring back all their vulnerable students. And two, they didn't offer all their 12th graders a place back before the deadline," says Ting.

SFUSD released a statement saying, "We intentionally scheduled a staggered rollout of our return to in-person learning."

They also stated that staffing continued to be a problem. Still, parents wish more had been done.

"It is hard to imagine qualifying for $12-million when we're bringing back a few hundred kids for supervised socialization," says Meredith Dodson, with parent group Decreasing the Distance.

She says she is conflicted with this much funding at stake.

"It's disappointing. We need the money and also we need our kids back and it looks like the district failed," she says.

And Miranda Martin with Parents for Public Schools San Francisco fears in a war between legislators and the district, the students will lose.

"[It's] important for people to work together. And just sort of the optics of it don't feel great to see the discord that's been happening instead of a collective effort to work together to get our students back to school," she says.

In addition to Phil Ting, legislators David Chiu and Scott Wiener signed the letter.

They say districts should not be permitted to use loopholes to get funding.