SAN DIEGO — The San Dieguito Union High School District's has named an interim superintendent to lead the district after Dr. Cheryl James-Ward was placed on administrative leave following controversial comments she made about Asian students' academic success.
Tina Douglas, associate superintendent of the SDUHSD is set to lead the school district as interim superintendent after a unanimous vote by the school board.
Douglas' appointment is effective immediately.
Before ending the meeting, SDUHD School Board President, Maureen Muir assured parents and students of Douglas’ work for the district and dedication for students.
“She has more passion for this district than anyone I've ever met,” said Muir. “She regards all of your children as her children."
Ward has been the superintendent since November. On Friday, the SDUHSD held a special board meeting to hear from students, parents and community members.
On Wednesday, students and parents participated in three hours of public comment at a San Dieguito board meeting. The board voted 3-1 to put her on administrative leave.
The actions from the school board come after Ward made comments made at a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training.
When looking at students’ grades, one person asked, "Do we know why Asians do so well in school? Do we know why?"
Dr. James-Ward replied, “I can tell you part of that reason. Here in San Dieguito, we have an influx of Asians from China and the people able to make that journey are wealthy, so you're going to get kids who are most affluent."
Dr. James-Ward went on to compare Asian students to Latinx students, saying some in the Latinx communities don't have as much financial or family support, and often times their parents have to work two jobs.
Following those comments, parents demanded Dr. James-Ward be fired or step down from her position.
Mali Wood, president of a group called Encintas-4-Equality tells CBS8 while she condemns what Dr. James-Ward said, she doesn't think she should lose her job over it.
“Counsel not cancel is the approach that needs to be taken. This is extremely difficult, uncomfortable, complicated work and if every time someone makes a mistake in this work, we decide to cancel or terminate them, no one is going to want to do this work," said Wood.
Dr. James-Ward has apologized. In a letter to parents, she wrote in part:
“The two-minute posting included a comment that I made and that was taken out of context. Nevertheless, I should have slowed down when making the comments which did not provide the true complexities of student success and challenges, stereotyped a community, and caused harm. I apologize for the harm caused to any of our students, parents, and members of our community."
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