The Coast News Group
Members of SDUHSD’s Chinese American community call for the resignation of Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward outside the district office on April 20. The district board voted to terminate her employment this past Sunday. Photo by Laura Place

Letter: SDUHSD made right call

To the Editor:

As reported earlier by The Coast News, the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Sunday to terminate Cheryl James-Ward’s employment as its Superintendent, effective Aug. 15.

This action achieves a milestone for SDUHSD parents and community members who rallied together to engage the school district when comments made by the Superintendent threatened the cohesion and unity of our community.

This issue has galvanized the Asian American community and we have seen an unprecedented outpouring of activism. On behalf of all the parents who have had their voices heard, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to the Trustees for taking definitive action.

During a school district diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training on April 11, when asked why Asian students do so well in school, James-Ward attributed the academic achievement gap to family wealth, saying,  “We have an influx of Asians from China, and the people who are able to make that journey are wealthy. You cannot come to America and buy a house for $2 million unless you have money.”

Ward doubled down when the board president pushed back, “In my community, in Carmel Valley … we had a large influx of Chinese families moving in, sight unseen, into our homes, into the community, and that requires money.” 

Those comments falsely associated academic success with family wealth and belittled the efforts of Asian students, while casting the Chinese American community as perpetual outsiders.

This inflammatory stereotyping of Asian American students and families further marginalizes our community, many members of which have been victimized by the recent rise of anti-Asian hate incidents and crimes both in California and nationally.

In the two months since the initial incident, hundreds of SDUHSD parents have petitioned the SDUHSD Board of Trustees to discontinue its employment of James-Ward due to her racist comments, and her lack of leadership and integrity in her responses to the incident.

In the wake of this corrosive episode, the voices of many SDUHSD parents, including those from the diverse Asian American community, have been energized.

Many parents participated in school district board meetings for the first time. Their collective action has contributed to the Board’s latest decision to release James-Ward.

Our organization welcomes this positive outcome and will continue to work with the school district and the community in the near future.

We will continuously strive to ensure that students of all races and ethnic backgrounds have the opportunity and resources to reach their full educational potential.

Mingzhu Zhang,

Asian American Parent Alliance of San Diego