SF high school faces backlash after eliminating student elections to engineer diversity

An attempt to engineer diversity in student government at a public high school in San Francisco has drawn scrutiny from parents who claim faculty tried to replace an appointed student leader with another student because of his Latino last name.

For the first time, administrators at Raoul Wallenberg High School decided last September to forgo the democratic process in student elections and appoint members of the freshman class to most of the seats on the student council. The freshman president and all student leaders for other grade levels were still elected.

Part of the reasoning behind the change was to “encourage more diversity in our student leadership,” according to Principal Cheryl Foster, who responded to questions from the San Francisco Examiner through a district spokesperson.

But the attempt reportedly elicited outrage at a community meeting on April 28 from students who wanted the right to vote and parents like Christina Martinez, who said school officials tried to court her son, James Ortiz, 15, onto the student council because of his surname.

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