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San Dieguito board terminates Superintendent James-Ward

At a special board meeting on Sunday, June 26, the San Dieguito Union High School District board took unanimous action to terminate Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward without cause effective Aug 15.

Cheryl James Ward
(Courtesy)

James-Ward had been on administrative leave since April following comments made during a diversity, equity and inclusion workshop in which she linked Asian students’ academic success with wealth.

For the past month, the board has heard outrage and activism from the district’s Asian community, who said they were hurt by Wards’ comments and by how she handled the fallout, accusing her of deflecting blame and not taking responsibility for her words.

Others have also spoken in favor of forgiving James-Ward and finding a way to move forward and allowing her to continue the work she had just begun in the district since being the lone finalist for the job last year, taking over in November following the resignation of Robert Haley.

James-Ward, a Carmel Valley resident, is a former CEO and chief engagement and innovation officer at e3 Civic High charter school, former professor at San Diego State University and former software engineer at NASA. She had been the district’s first Black superintendent.

James-Ward apologized for her comments and has also said she believes the backlash to be retaliation for a harassment complaint she filed against SDUHSD Vice President Michael Allman. She has also threatened litigation against the district.

Since April, Associate Superintendent of Business Services Tina Douglas has been acting as interim superintendent. In a letter to district families, she shared that she has agreed to stay on through June 30, 2023 in the interim role.

“This will allow the board to conduct a thorough search process with staff, student and community input and the hopes of a permanent superintendent in time for the start of school in the fall of 2023,” Douglas wrote. “ In the coming months, the board will develop a timeline for the selection process.”

More on this story as it develops.


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