The San Francisco school district is dropping the word “chief” from all job titles out of respect for Native Americans, officials said.
The San Francisco Unified Schools District spokesperson Gentle Blythe told the San Francisco Chronicle that the decision to stop using the term was made Wednesday.
“While there are many opinions on the matter, our leadership team agreed that, given that Native American members of our community have expressed concerns over the use of the title, we are no longer going to use it,” Blythe said.
According to SFUSD’s official website, the district employs 13 officials who have the word “chief” in their titles, including Chief Technology Officer Melissa Dodd, Chief of Staff Jill Hoogendyk, and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nicole Priestly.
As of Thursday morning, the titles have not been changed on the website.
The school district, which employees 10,000 people, has not yet decided what to call its high-ranking officials going forward, but Blythe stressed that nixing “chief” from their titles did not mean they were being demoted.
“By changing how we refer to our division heads we are in no way diminishing the indispensable contributions of our district central service leaders,” the spokesperson explained.
The Post reached out to the SFUSD, seeking an explanation on what prompted the decision.
Although the word “chief” traces its origins to the Old French word “chef,” meaning “the head of a group,” it has come to be closely associated with Native American tribal leaders known as “chieftains.”
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to several indigenous communities, with the Ohlone people being the predominant group.
School officials in San Francisco — a widely recognized liberal bastion — sparked controversy in the past by trying to rebrand dozens of schools named after white historical figures like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as part of the nation’s reckoning on racial justice.
Parents fed up with SFUSD’s emphasis on progressive politics over the needs of children amid the COVID pandemic responded to the botched school-renaming plan by recalling three school board members in February.