SAN FRANCISCO - Drama continues to engulf San Francisco public schools, as one embattled school board member is suing her colleagues for tens of millions of dollars in damages.
Alison Collins says she is the target of a smear campaign to label her a racist.
On Wednesday evening, she attended a rally at Board of Education headquarters, surrounded by her attorneys and about 50 supporters.
"How grateful I am for all the love and support I've gotten over the last few weeks," said Collins. "I am a Black woman, a mother, and an educator and all of these legacies mean I have no choice but to fight."
Collins has been called on to resign by virtually every San Francisco civic leader, including Mayor London Breed.
Five of her fellow board members have voted "no-confidence" in her.
The furor stems from tweets Collins posted two years before she was elected.
They suggest Asian-American students and parents benefit from "white supremacy" and a stereotype of being the "model minority."
Collins said her words were taken out of context and said she was sorry for any pain they may have caused.
But now her tone has turned defiant, and she calls the widespread criticism of her "a toxic political attack."
Her lawsuit seeks more than $80 million in damages from the school district and individual board members, accusing them of retaliation, violating her free speech and due process, and defamation of character.
"We want a written apology in which they say they misunderstood her words, that her words were not racist," attorney Charles Bonner told the crowd.
He is demanding the board hold a special meeting within a week to restore her committee assignments and her position as board Vice-President.
"They have a choice in seven days, they can do what we've requested, and then this threat is dropped, it goes away," said Bonner.
The turmoil comes as families mount a recall drive against school board members, blaming them for doing too little to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collins’ backers say her tweets were unearthed as part of that campaign.
"Who dug out these tweets and who chose to be opportunistic to push a political agenda when a lot of AAPI people are hurting right now?" demanded one speaker.
Supporters also believe Collins rankled people by pushing for equity, most recently converting prestigious Lowell High School to lottery admission.
"We fought to get her and they didn't want her and the reason they're picking on her she is a black woman with power," exclaimed another speaker.
Collins left the rally refusing direct questions from reporters.
Recall organizers, contacted by phone, said they "wished the school board wasn't in the news so much," but that they are focused on returning children to classrooms.
Almost 6,000 people have signed a petition calling on Collins to step down, saying the 2016 tweet thread "dehumanizes and divides our communities of color."
Collins is asking supporters to join her.
"Don't let me or anyone else be swept under the rug, cancelled or dismissed, for speaking truth to power," she declared.