The lobby of the San Dieguito Union High School District office. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz
The lobby of the San Dieguito Union High School District office. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

The San Dieguito Union High School District board unanimously voted to terminate Superintendent Cheryl James-Ward at a special board meeting on Sunday.  

The decision will be effective Aug. 15. James-Ward is being terminated without cause, meaning she is being let go, but not because of any serious workplace misconduct.

The board did not provide a reason as to why she was terminated without cause.

James-Ward had been on administrative leave since April after she made comments during a diversity, equity and inclusion training session implying that Asian students are academically successful because they are from wealthy families who come from China. 

Her comments were in response to Board Trustee Michael Allman’s question about why Asian students do so well in school during a discussion about grade data. The question itself did not get a lot of backlash, though some Asian community members have said it was problematic, too.

Shortly after being put on administrative leave, James-Ward apologized for her comments. She also told NBC-7 that she intended to file a lawsuit against the district, claiming that she was being retaliated against for filing a complaint against Allman in March. 

Allman and James-Ward have butted heads since she was hired last year, often bickering and arguing during board meetings. 

James-Ward could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Allman told Voice of San Diego in April that before James-Ward filed the complaint, he had called for an independent investigation into remarks she made at a Feb. 17 board meeting

He didn’t specify what those remarks were, but during a heated discussion near the end of the meeting, Cheryl-Ward alleged that she and her staff were being intimidated and disrespected by one or more board members. 

The district told Voice they could not provide details because of ongoing investigations into the complaint and James-Ward’s remarks. Allman also declined to comment until the investigations are complete. 

In the meantime, Tina Douglas will continue to serve as the district’s interim superintendent until June 2023, the district said. 

Tigist Layne

Tigist Layne is Voice of San Diego's north county reporter. Contact her directly at

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  1. The board did not provide a reason as to why she was terminated without cause, because of cowardice. And she was baited by Allman’s question to which she provided an accurate by inartful answer.

    The racism underlying all this did not come from Asian parents alone.

    1. Typical anti-Asian garbage. My wife is Asian, and I expect more from “enlightened” San Diego employees. I guess Asians don’t face adversity.

  2. It occus to me the correct answer to the question of why some goups are doing better than others , needed to just focus on what is factual, researched and undeniable: children with involved parents, who have high expectations, do better in school. This is true across all races, creeds, colors, and is seperat from financial status.

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