UPDATE: Superintendent placed on leave after controversial comments about Asian students

ENCINITAS, Calif. – Dozens of people showed up to the San Dieguito Union High School board meeting Wednesday, prepared to speak out against recent comments Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward made about Asian students.

The comments were made during a district “diversity, equity and inclusion” training in response to various demographics receiving D and F grades. The number of Asian students did not make up a high percentage of failing grades.

This is a portion of what Ward said:

“Here in San Dieguito, we have an influx of Asians from China and the people who were able to make that journey are wealthy. You cannot come to America and buy a house for $2 million dollars unless you have money.”

Ward has issued public apologies after her comments, but still parents from the district and across the county showed up to share their disappointment.

“Not only wrong, but with all the Asian hate crimes going up nowadays that makes every single Asian student and their parents very vulnerable to danger,” Marci Strange said.

Yanru Li shared she works hard “sun up to sun down” to provide for her family.

“We like the school here, that’s why we spend our effort and our money to move into this district,” Li said.

Groups like The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People also took issue with board President Maureen Muir’s follow-up comment in response to Ward at the training saying in part:

“Money has nothing to do with it. Every day the parents are there to pick them up, they’re having dinner with their parents,” adding, “they’re more family focused.”

Yusef Miller with North County NAACP was at the meeting to express his concern.

“She insinuated that Black families don’t pick up their children. I pick up my children from school,” Miller said.

In addition to being fired up about the comments, people also had differing opinions on the “DEI” training itself.

“I encourage the board to initiate an open discussion on DEI and its ramifications. No one can decide for the community that DEI should be accepted as a universal value,” said Frank Xu, president of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation.

Meanwhile, Miller believes “DEI was not the problem.”

“DEI is what avoids these kinds of comments, so we need more DEI training, not less,” he said.

Board members each had a chance to address the public after about three hours of public comment. They said the issue would be discussed further in closed session and they would report to the community if any additional action would be taken.