A San Francisco principal was so distraught over the number of white and Asian kids winning a student election that she withheld results of the balloting for more than a week.
Lena Van Haren of Everett Middle School kept students guessing as to the winners of their Oct. 9 election because she was unhappy with the popularity of white, mixed-race and Asian students at the polling booth. Four out of 10 spots were won by Van Haren’s non-preferred candidates.
“It’s not OK for a school that is really, really diverse to have the student representatives majority white,” Van Haren told the San Francisco Chronicle Oct. 20. “The easy thing would have been to announce the results and move on. I intentionally did not choose the easy way because this is so important.”
The school is 56 percent Hispanic, 18 percent white, 9 percent black, 12 percent “other” and 5 percent Asian.
“I never, ever said we wouldn’t share the results or they weren’t good enough,” Van Haren told the newspaper.
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Livid parents went to local media outlets.
“My criticism of the Everett administration is their good intention got in the way of their common sense,” said parent Todd David. “It’s really, really disturbing to me that withholding the results somehow equals social justice or equity.”
Van Haren eventually framed her decision to withhold election results until Monday as an opportunity to “pause” for “a conversation” on the importance of diversity.
“This is complex, but as a parent and a principal, I truly believe it behooves us to be thoughtful about our next steps here so that we can have a diverse student council that is truly representative of all voices at Everett,” she said in an email to parents last Thursday.
The ordeal took place just days after Chelsea Clinton’s Oct. 6 guest visit the school. She encouraged students to participate in politics during a book presentation.
“The whole school voted for those people, so it is not like people rigged the game. But in a way, now it is kinda being rigged,” seventh-grader Sebastian Kaplan told KRON 4 Oct. 16.
The station’s viewers were more direct than Kaplan.
“I’m sure Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Napoleon did the same in the name of some [BS] excuse,” a user wrote in the station’s comments section.
“Social Engineering 101: Like anyone is shocked that that happens in [San Francisco Unified School District]. Principal Lena Van Haren, you’re beyond a joke,” wrote another.
Concerned citizens can contact Everett Middle School.