UPDATE: Interim superintendent named amid school controversy

ENCINITAS, Calif. – A North County school superintendent was placed on administrative leave for insensitive comments she made about Asian students and families during a recent district training.

During a discussion about different demographics receiving D and F grades, San Dieguito Union High School District Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward said many Asian students were excelling due to coming from wealth. Dozens spoke out calling for Ward’s resignation during a heated board meeting Wednesday as the board voted 3-to-1 to place her on leave. The “no” vote was from board member Katrina Young.

Though several people did accept Ward’s apology, district parents who attended the board meeting told FOX 5 they still believe more needs to be done.

“She needs to step down, period,” Tony Xu said.

Hong Wu said she felt like the board was listening and receptive to the community’s feelings.

“Initially we thought they would just ignore us. It’s not exactly what we asked for, but it’s close,” Wu said.

Ward apologized for the third time since the controversial comments during Wednesday’s meeting.

“I want to apologize once more to the Asian community, my Asian students and families and to our entire community about the comments made last week during our ‘DEI’ training,” she said.

Ward spent several minutes reiterating her apology for the comments made during a recent diversity, equity and inclusion training for the district.

“The purpose of the DEI training is to help us examine who we serve. Our biases, generalizations, to have a free exchange of ideas, to brainstorm solutions. It is not designed to be a public session, because it’s a safe space where we should grow learn and evolve,” Ward said.

Again, families took issue with the apology itself.

“If you think another way when the doors are closed, then those remarks are her real thoughts,” Xu said.

The board will now hold a special meeting Friday at 1 p.m. There are two items on the agenda including a performance evaluation for the superintendent and a discussion of employment. It will be held in a closed session, but the board will report any actions taken publicly.