Wong, et al. vs. San Francisco Board of Education, et al.

Wong, et al. vs. San Francisco Board of Education, et al.

Wong, et al. vs. San Francisco Board of Education was a lawsuit in the U.S. state of California that asked the San Francisco Board of Education to void San Francisco public schools superintendent Arlene Ackerman's new contract.

The lawsuit was filed by the law firm Gonzalez & Leigh on behalf of Alan Wong, a student delegate to the school board who just graduated; Jeremiah Jeffries, a teacher in the district; Tami Bryant, a parent in the district; and Jacques Fitch, a city taxpayer.

Background to the Lawsuit

The contract that the lawsuit attempted to invalidate gave African-American Superintendent Ackerman $375,000 in severance pay should she leave early or not be able to get along with school board members. The contract was offered to Ackerman by lame duck board members in 2004. Then Board President Dan Kelly, with support from board members Jill Wynns, Eddie Chin, and Heather Hiles (the lame duck), wrote the contract in order to forestall a takeover of the San Francisco Board of Education by Green Party board members [http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=board_overview Mark Sanchez] and [http://portal.sfusd.edu/template/default.cfm?page=board_overview Sarah Lipson] , and progressive Democrat Eric Mar.

These "idealogues," as Board Member Jill Wynns described them, were trying to force Ackerman to leave her job. The severance package was designed to encourage incoming board members to work better with Ackerman, but the severance package angered parents and teachers who had been facing cutbacks and school closures during this period.

Terms of the Lawsuit

The suit argued that the meeting violated the state Education Code, which states that pay raises given to county superintendents must be given only at regularly scheduled public meetings. Because San Francisco is both a county and city, petitioners argued that the San Francisco School Board is bound by laws regulating both district and county superintendents. The contract was approved at an emergency Friday evening meeting after Veteran’s Day; the public had been given only 22 hours notice of the meeting.

Outcome of the Lawsuit

The lawsuit was dismissed on August 17, 2005 by Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith. He noted that Ackerman was a school board employee, not an elected county superintendent or county official, and therefore the contract was legal. [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/18/BAGAEE9ETN1.DTL]


Superintendent Ackerman, unable to get along with the divisive San Francisco Board of Education, resigned and collected the severance package.

San Francisco District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval introduced a resolution urging Ackerman not to accept her severance package, which later was adopted by a 6 to 4 vote. The San Francisco Youth Commission and San Francisco Unified School District's Student Advisory Council also urged her to drop the package. A petition from Rick Reynolds, a leader in the district's Parent Advisory Council, also circulated a petition asking Ackerman to drop her package.

The San Francisco Unified School District has its own legal team, but the District did not represent Ackerman in the lawsuit. The District was represented by trial lawyer Joe Cotchett.

External links

* [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/07/12/EDGD56NAPI1.DTL S.F. Schools Are No Place for Politics]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/11/13/BAG849QQJ429.DTL&hw=arlene+ackerman&sn=001&sc=1000 Schools chief gets big raise, extra year]
* [http://www.sfbg.com/39/31/news_ackerman.html Cutting the golden parachute]
* [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/06/23/BAG3ODDG801.DTL Lawsuit filed to toss school chief's raise]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/07/27/BAGH7DU99O1.DTL&hw=arlene+ackerman+lawsuit+gonzalez&sn=006&sc=644 Schools chief is considering retirement Conflicts with some board members worsening, she says]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/07/28/EDGSHDU0R71.DTL Don't drive out Ackerman]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/03/EDG9NE1QH31.DTL&hw=ackerman&sn=006&sc=838 Why Ackerman should drop her severance package]
* [http://www.sfexaminer.com/articles/2005/08/10/news/20050810_ne06_sfusd.txt SFUSD to defend Ackerman deal in court]
* [http://www.sfexaminer.com/articles/2005/08/11/news/20050811_ne02_chief.txt School chief's contract argued in court]
* [http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/11/BAG4AE669O1.DTL Ackerman raise called illegal at court hearing Rules for salary vote evaded, lawyers say]
* [http://sfbayview.com/062905/lawsuit062905.shtml A lawsuit on behalf of the children of SFUSD]
* [http://www.sfbayview.com/081005/winwin081005.shtml A win-win for School Supt. Ackerman and our children]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/09/06/BAG1OEISI91.DTL Schools chief losing support]
* [http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/18/BAGAEE9ETN1.DTL&hw=arlene+ackerman+lawsuit+gonzalez&sn=003&sc=756 Suit challenging schools chief pay dismissed Her $26,000 raise legally OKd by board, judge rules]
* [http://www.sfexaminer.com/articles/2006/02/23/news/20060223_ne04_ack.txt Appeal]

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