The Coast News Group
The San Dieguito Union School District officially fired Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward on June 26. Courtesy and file photos
The San Dieguito Union School District officially fired Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward on June 26. Courtesy and file photos
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San Dieguito fires James-Ward, wrongful termination suit likely to follow

ENCINITAS — After a two-hour closed session, the San Dieguito Union High School District board voted unanimously on June 26 to terminate Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward, without cause, after she was placed on administrative leave in April.

James-Ward, who was officially relieved of her duties Sunday after making racially insensitive comments about the Chinese immigrant community, will move forward with a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school district, according to her attorney Josh Gruenberg.

The board announced that Interim Superintendent Tina Douglas will continue to serve in her role through June 2023, a position Douglas has held since the board placed James-Ward on administrative leave following a 3-1 vote on April 20.

The board hopes to find a permanent superintendent by next fall and will be developing a plan for the selection process in the coming months, according to an email sent by Douglas to district families.

James-Ward’s comments drawing a correlation between Asian students’ academic success and their family’s wealth sparked protests from students, parents and community activists, many of whom filled board meetings to call for her resignation or dismissal.

Others have asked the community to forgive James-Ward, pushing the board to have her reinstated.

In the fallout of her controversial remarks, James-Ward issued multiple apologies during school board meetings and via district emails, but many community members were not satisfied with her response.

Residents grew more irritated after the embattled administrator told NBC7 that her temporary leave was retaliation for a complaint she filed against Trustee Michael Allman in March.

James-Ward retained the services of San Diego-based Gruenberg Law shortly after being placed on leave in late April. Gruenberg declined to say when the lawsuit would be filed.

“I look forward to questioning the board about its decision to terminate when there was no cause to do so,” Grunberg wrote in an email to The Coast News. “That should be fun.”

1 comment

JB June 27, 2022 at 8:33 pm

From the UT: James-Ward’s contract was set to expire in June 2025. Because she is being terminated without cause, her contract allows her to be paid a year’s salary as a buyout. She was being paid a $288,000 annual salary.

So, she’ll get paid over a quarter of a million dollars for doing nothing, than sue which most likely will end up in a settlement, so Ms. Ward, one way or the other makes out like a bandit on this deal.

This begs the question, why did the board terminate her without cause knowing she’d get a big pay out and still sue?

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