The former vice president of the San Francisco School Board was removed over controversial tweets about Asian Americans. She wants $99 million in damages because of it.
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Ousted from her role as vice president of the San Francisco School Board, Alison Collins is now suing the school district, the board and the members who voted for her removal, and demanding a whopping $99 million in damages.
Collins was stripped of her position and removed from her committee roles in a 5-2 no-confidence vote by the board this month after a board critic uncovered a series of her four-year-old tweets that accused Asian-Americans of benefiting “from the ‘model minority’ BS” and using “white supremacist thinking to assimilate and ‘get ahead.'”
She also wrote in the 2016 thread that she was “looking to combat anti-Black racism in the Asian community at my daughters’ mostly Asian Am school,” and observed Asian students and teachers “won’t engage in critical race convos unless they see how they are impacted by white supremacy.”
Collins refused to resign from the board as many city politicos demanded, and said her comments had been taken out of context. The two dissenting votes belonged to Collins herself and board president Gabriela López.
The 48-page complaint filed Wednesday in federal court opens with a recitation of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s poem “First They Came,” implying a kinship between Collins’ ouster and national socialism’s purge of Jewish people and political dissidents during the Holocaust.
“Rather than take actions to protect Black and Brown children from racist harassment and racist bullying, defendants opted to ‘burn’ the messenger, using a pretzel-twisted redirection of Ms. Collins’ seasoned social metaphors aimed at uniting all marginalized, colonized and racially oppressed people against racism and racial oppression,” she says in her complaint.
Collins asks that she be reinstated to her position, and seeks both $12 million in general damages from each board member, the school district and the city of San Francisco as well as $3 million in punitive damages from each individual board member that supported her removal. She claims each member acted in a way that was “calculating, oppressive, malicious, designed to extract maximum anguish, pain, severe mental and severe emotional distress, and was done with ill will, intended to vex, hurt with a conspiratorial disregard for the constitutional rights, health and safety of Ms. Collins and her family.”
Collins says the $12 million per defendant “will only tip the scale in the direction of injustice. In the spirit of compromise, this amount is the demand that any reasonable jury will award as the price for violating Ms. Collins’ historic, paradigm shifting, First Amendment Rights of the United States Constitution by defendant oath takers.” The additional $3 million per board member, she says, will “protect the public from the gross misuse of governmental power.”
She claims the board’s vote was illegal as it occurred with just 24 hours of advance notice to the public, and that it did not follow established procedure.
Contacted by phone Wednesday afternoon, Collins’ attorneys said only that they would be holding a “unity and truth” rally outside the Board of Education’s office at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
District spokeswoman Laura Dudnick declined to comment in an email late Wednesday. “We are just learning about the lawsuit and don’t have a comment at this time,” she said.
Defendant board member Kevine Boggess said he’s done nothing but the job he was elected to do.
“I respect Commissioner Collins’ right to litigate, if she feels her rights were violated. I’m still in the process of fully reading the lawsuit and am seeking out legal advice about how to proceed, but I am confident in the board’s powers and legal authority to take votes regarding the board leadership, and I feel I’ve done nothing wrong, but ultimately that will be left up to for a judge to decide,” Boggess said in a statement.
“The Board of Education will remain focused on working for all San Francisco students, families, and staff in our public schools and recovering together from this pandemic, and nothing can shift that primary focus.”
Other board members contacted by Courthouse News did not return emails seeking comment.