Spending $525K in legal fees over controversial San Francisco high school mural in question

A San Francisco schools oversight committee will discuss next month the expenses involving a controversial mural at George Washington High School. 

An audit found the district spent $525,000 on attorney fees to try and remove a mural that showed slaves and Native Americans. 

The money came from voter approved Prop. A, which was supposed to fund school facility upgrades.

The committee's interim chair told the San Francisco Chronicle that instead, the bond money has been used as a "slush fund."

District officials counter the use of bond money for the legal costs was appropriate because the mural is a part of a school building and "caused psychological harm to students," and therefore presents a health and safety risk, the Chronicle reported. 

The mural controversy has been erupting for several years.

In 2019, the school board voted to paint over the mural, and then later, decided to cover it instead of destroying it. Three of those board members have since been recalled.

The school’s alumni association sued, claiming the district failed to follow state environmental impact laws.

A judge ruled with the alumni association. San Francisco Unified appealed.

But ultimately, those two groups agreed to settle the suit, the Chronicle reported, which meant the district had to pay the alumni association's legal costs of $345,000. 

The Citizens Bond Oversight Committee doesn't have regulatory powers, but can refer the issue to the city or state.