California School Board VP Sues School District, Commissioners Over ‘Anti-Asian’ Tweets

A former vice president and member of the San Francisco School Board has filed a lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the school district and five board members of violating her First Amendment rights in the form of silencing her free speech.

Alison Collins is seeking $12 million in damages from the school district, along with $3 million in punitive damages from each of the five members who stripped her from her position as vice president and involvement in the committee, the lawsuit alleges, which was made public on Twitter by reporter Gabriel Lorenzo Greschler of Jewish news agency KQED.

Last week, Collins was removed from her role as vice president in a 5–2 passing “no-confidence vote” after the board drafted a resolution seeking to strip her from her role over a series of “anti-Asian” tweets she posted in 2016.

Collins alleges that the actions against her are in violation of her free speech and falsely labeled her a “racist,” adding that she was a private, non-governmental employee, at the time of the posts, according to the plaintiff.

She also claims that the vote for her removal caused her to suffer financial losses, significant loss of reputation, severe mental and emotional distress, and humiliation.

The members Collins is suing have been identified as commissioners of the San Francisco School Board (SFSB), named Jenny Lam; Faauuga Moliga; Kevin Boggess; Mark Sanchez; and Matt Alexander.

Collins’ string of 2016 posts is still available for everyone to see on Twitter.

The messages resurfaced, and caused widespread indignation, at a time when multiple communities across the nation reported a sharp increase in hate crimes and racist interactions against Asian-Americans.

On March 20, Collins apologized to everyone who felt hurt by her tweets, saying the posts were “taken out of context.” Critics have called it a non-apology.

“A number of tweets and social media posts I made in 2016 have recently been highlighted,” she wrote in a statement. “They have been taken out of context, both of that specific moment and the nuance of the conversation that took place.”

California State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat, criticized Collins on Twitter and called for her to resign.

“If Allison Collins even vaguely cares about educating San Francisco’s kids, she’ll stop suing the school district and her colleagues for $100M and instead resign,” he wrote.

Wiener accusing her of suing the school district and her colleagues for $100 million is unclear, which the senator also said in a follow-up post.

According to the plaintiff, she filed a lawsuit seeking $27 million in total, $12 million in damages from the school district, along with $3 million in punitive damages from each of the five members.

Two members of the school board, Lam and Moliga have also called on Collins to resign.  The two members are the board’s only Asian-American or Pacific-Islander members.