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ENCINITAS, Calif. — Some North County parents are calling for the firing of the superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District over recent remarks that sparked controversy.

Thursday’s district board meeting was tense as the debate rages on over comments made by Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward. James-Ward was placed on administrative leave last month and an interim district leader was named after the superintendent remarked that many Asian students within San Dieguito Union High were excelling because they come from wealth. She has since apologized for the comment.

But some still say her apology was insufficient and that she should be removed from the role.

“She exercised poor judgment and she blames Asian students’ success on wealth,” one attendee said.

James-Ward’s son came to her defense in the meeting. Speaking in Mandarin, he said his mother misspoke and that she cares deeply for the Asian community.

However, protesters outside the meeting were not swayed, building some pressure for the superintendent to step down.

“We are all here calling on Cheryl James-Ward to be fired for cause,” one protester said.

“If she comes back, how can I view her as a role model?” another protester asked. “How can our kids view her as a role model?”

Other parents and Associated Student Body President Joy Ruppert say James-Ward has been an inclusive leader of her district. Supporters also argue she’s being targeted by board member Michael Allman after she reported harassing emails from Allman and the district opened a harassment probe into his behavior.

“My community being so reactive and not giving a minute to understand that getting rid of DEI, Diversity Equity Inclusion, or getting rid of Dr. Ward means that the students and their kids are going to be going to school more racist comments that offended these people are going to be happening to those kids,” Ruppert said.

No decision on James-Ward’s status was made by the end of Thursday’s meeting.