Breed Fills Empty School Board Seat With Education Adviser

Similar ethical concerns over the mayor's influence were raised with a former school board member who played the same dual role.

Mayor London Breed on Tuesday appointed her education adviser to fill a vacant Board of Education seat.

Jenny Lam, known for her leadership with nonprofit Chinese for Affirmative Action, will replace Supervisor Matt Haney, who was elected in November the same month Breed hired Lam as her education adviser. She joins new school board members Alison Collins, Gabriela López and Faauuga Moliga weeks after they were sworn in

“Jenny has fought for public school students and families at both the local and state levels and she has stood up for immigrant communities so that all are welcome in San Francisco and its schools,” Breed said after making the announcement at Roosevelt Middle School School. “Both as a professional and a parent, she has demonstrated a commitment to improving our public schools and to promoting equity throughout our entire school district.”

Before working for Breed, Lam was a manager at EducationSuperHighway, a national nonprofit to upgrade internet access in public schools. She also co-chaired two San Francisco Unified School District committees.

“I’m honored and excited to serve on the San Francisco Board of Education,” Lam said in a statement. “I will continue to fight for our diverse students – by supporting English language learners, fostering supportive learning environments, closing the achievement gap and striving for excellence in every school and every classroom.”

Haney and Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who also served on the school board, both support Lam’s appointment but raised concerns over the school district’s independence from the city, the Examiner reported. Breed is not in agreement with education leaders pushing for the implementation of June’s Proposition G, which is in a legal dispute but would raise teacher salaries.

There is also a push to spend at least some of the city’s $181 million windfall on education, countering Breed’s plan to spend it issues related to homelessness.

Similar concerns were raised with former school board member Hydra Mendoza, who also served as an education adviser to mayors Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee. But Collins sees it as a benefit that continues a common dialogue on education among city leaders.

“I think Hydra’s connectivity helped to support that and I’m glad Jenny Lam will continue that,” Collins tells SF Weekly. “Her reputation precedes her. I just feel like she’s going to be a great addition.”

Collins also highlighted the importance of Lam being a parent of two kids in the public school system and rounding out representation on the school board as a second-generation Chinese American.

Lam will run for the same seat in November in a special election and if she wins, run again in November 2020. 

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