Californians for Equal Rights Foundation last week called for the San Dieguito Union High School District Board to abstain from dividing students and employees on the basis of race, following a highly contentious incident at the board’s most recent Diversity Equity Inclusion training workshop, hosted by the board on April 11, 2022.
The Globe spoke with Dr. Wenyaun Wu, Executive Director of Californians for Equal Rights Foundation who said they firmly “oppose the inflammatory and untruthful narrative promoted by San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) Superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward and biased media reporting.”
The Californians for Equal Rights Foundation says its objective is to “Defend Merit and Advance Equality,” and “Promote civic engagement.”
Dr. Cheryl James-Ward
Superintendent, San Dieguito School Dist. (Photo: sduhsd.net)
On April 12, 2022, CFER issued an Action Alert after the San Dieguito Union High School District hosted the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training program, in which the new superintendent Dr. Cheryl James-Ward gave some blatant remarks smearing the district’s Asian-American students, according to Dr. Wu.
Dr. Wu said during the training session, Dr. Ward attempted to answer a question on Asian-Americans students’ high performance in the school district saying these students do well because they come from wealthy, first-generation Chinese-American families. She argued: “people who’re able to make the journey to America are wealthy.”
Wu said Asian-American students from low-income families perform better in school than other low-income students. “The problem here is not race and ethnicity,” Wu said. “It is culture. They are the playbook for the woke.”
Wu also said Dr. Ward is unwilling to acknowledge what is best for the students in her district.
Dr. Ward then dug in her heels Dr. Wu said, “and recounted the phenomenon of more immigrants settling down in the district saying, ‘a large influx of Chinese families move in, sight unseen, into our homes, our community… the whole family comes, grandparents and parents and the grandparents are there to support kids at home.’ (at 1:22:38 on video) She then contrasted the wealth gap with over-simplifying stereotypes: ‘whereas, our Latinx families don’t have that type of money, parents are working two jobs from sunup to sundown.’”
Another board member disagreed with Dr. Ward during the Zoom Board Meeting, and said she has asked the question as well about Asian-American student achievement and found that Asian-American students have parents and grandparents living with them, making them more family focused, which is powerful and supportive of the students.
Wenyuan Wu, Ph.D. Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. (Photo: CERF.org)
Dr. Wu said following Dr. Ward’s initial remarks stereotyping Asian students and her continued refusals to take responsibility, claiming her comments were “taken out of context,” Dr. Ward then shifted the blame onto CFER, “accusing us of putting ‘a complete hit’ on her and ‘public(ly) lynching’ her.’”
“Dr. Ward’s reactions expose her inability to escape the ideological trappings of race-based politics and the mainstream media’s unhealthy obsession with race,” Dr. Wu said.
Dr. Wu said Dr. Ward issued two sort-of-apologies. “She said ‘oops, I’m sorry if I offended anyone, but we need to do more DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion).”
Dr. Wu expressed her frustration with local NBC7 who she said merely repeated what Dr. Ward told them: that the people showing up to the school board meetings are not district parents and were sent there by CFER to protest. “We did not tell them what to do,” Dr. Wu said. “We have no agenda. DEI is an agenda smearing the parents movement as a conspiracy.”
“We’re not some sort of secret cabal opposing a black woman Superintendent,” Dr. Wu said. “She’s on defense, and unwilling/unable to escape her own preconceived notions of seeing people and things through the prism of race.”
The school board voted 3-1 to place Dr. Cheryl James-Ward on administrative leave. But Dr. Ward said it was in retaliation. “Nothing that I said should have me here today,” Dr. Ward told NBC7. “I apologized to my community because if I caused harm, I need to apologize. And I apologized.”
Parents in the school district are outraged by Dr. Ward’s comments.
Dr. Wenyuan Wu said there is a new petition at Change.org calling for Dr. Cheryl James-Ward’s resignation, which already had 1,400 signatures as of Monday, and is up to 1,947 signatures Tuesday.
“We’re seeing a lot of support across the state,” Dr. Wu said. “We are on the right side. The problem is local media supporters who don’t do their homework. I told them ‘all you need to do is call me to verify. We are only focused on what she (Dr. Ward) said as the public school Superintendent.’”
Dr. Wu added, “We don’t accept the unacceptable.”
🧵Drama in San Dieguito: The disgraced superintendent smears us as a group that “condemned, crucified and publicly lynched” her and lies that most protestors are helicoptered from CFER. I am receiving hate-filled emails and calls twisting all facts.https://t.co/hogyWh7Dxk
— Wenyuan Wu, Ph.D. (@wu_wenyuan) April 25, 2022
These are screen shots of the San Dieguito Union High School District Board Diversity Equity Inclusion training workshop:
Diversity Equity Inclusion training workshop, San Dieguito School Dist board. (screen capture sduhsd.net)