Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Education

San Dieguito superintendent speaks out about her comments and the backlash

The San Dieguito Union High School District's Superintendent is speaking out, tonight. Dr. Cheryl James-Ward was placed on administrative leave late last week after making racially-biased remarks. She sat down with KPBS Education Reporter M.G. Perez to tell her side of the story.

The San Dieguito Union High School District's Superintendent is speaking out after being placed on administrative leave late last week.

She spoke to KPBS concerning the racially biased comments she made about Asian families at a district meeting on diversity, equity and inclusion two weeks ago. When the discussion turned to reasons the district’s Asian students received better grades than most students, Ward characterized and credited the success of Chinese students to wealthy parents and extended Asian families able to support them.

“My comment was really about one of the factors, which is indeed a factor,” she said. “I apologize for the hurt that came out of that. It was never meant to hurt. It was out of a pure heart.”

There has been a tremendous backlash as seen at two recent San Dieguito Union High School District Board of Trustees meetings with demands for Ward’s resignation.

“I have no intentions of resigning,” Ward said.

The superintendent also has support from parents and community members who believe she is remorseful and valuable to the district’s growth. Many of them say she is deserving of a second chance after being on the job for just 5 months.

KPBS has learned that Ward filed a complaint of harassment against Michael Allman, a trustee in the school board, a month ago which is being investigated. The complaint reportedly documented numerous instances of hostile, unethical and discriminatory behavior by Allman that has gone unchecked for months.

Image from iOS (2).jpg
Mike Damron
Cheryl James-Ward, who is on administrative leave from her Superintendent position with San Dieguito Union High School District, is shown in this photo, April 25, 2022.

Ward has been made a financial offer to resign and drop the complaint. She told KPBS, "If Michael Allman could get rid of me, his hope was that investigation would go away. So, get rid of Dr. Ward and get rid of the investigation.”

KPBS reached out to Allman and Board President Mo Muir. Muir said they have no comment while the matter is in litigation.

Ward said she will sue the district for wrongful termination if the board fires her.

“It’s a teachable moment for every person in this country who is dealing with bullies and bullying. I stand here before you to tell them to stand up for what is right,” Ward concluded.

San Dieguito superintendent speaks out about her comments and the backlash