From the Boardroom

Over the summer, the SDUHSD Board of Trustees continued to meet. In late June, the board unanimously approved the termination of Cheryl James-Ward as superintendent, without cause, appointing Tina Douglas, the associate superintendent of business services, to serve as interim superintendent through June 2023. In late July, an investigation into claims James-Ward filed against board vice president Michael Allman, alleging misconduct and discrimination, was completed, clearing Allman of all alleged wrongdoing. Lastly, a lawsuit filed by two community members against SDUHSD over the district’s election map redistricting process is currently waiting for the judge to rule if it can be dismissed due to mootness.

Allman’s Investigation

After an investigation of his behavior was completed in July, Allman was cleared of all misconduct alleged by James-Ward in a complaint filed in February, Allman said during a July 27 board meeting.

The investigation, which cost the district more than $49,000, according to a district spokesperson, included the testimonies of 10 witnesses — board members and district staff — and considered nine complaints, including that Allman created a “hostile” workplace for James-Ward because of her gender, according to a July 15 notice of outcome sent to James-Ward from the district. The investigation was conducted by attorney Arlene Prater from Best Best & Krieger and was requested by Allman.

While Prater found that Allman could be “demanding and disrespectful” regarding his “goals” and “interests,” she did not find sufficient evidence to support any of the claims that Allman had discriminated against James-Ward based on her gender, according to the notice.

“This was a sorry and disappointing chapter in the board’s history, but it’s over,” Allman said during the July 27 meeting.

James-Ward’s attorney discounted the investigation, saying it was “biased” because it was paid for by the district.

James-Ward’s Termination and Claim

James-Ward filed a claim for damage earlier this month, alleging she was wrongfully terminated in June.

The board approved James-Ward’s termination without cause in late June after placing her on leave in April for her comments that correlated the academic success of Asian American students to their wealth.

After being placed on leave, James-Ward hired attorney Josh Gruenberg of the law firm Gruenberg Law and announced intentions to sue the district if she was fired. James-Ward believes she was fired, not for her comments about Asian American students, but in retaliation for a complaint she filed against Allman in February in which she alleged he created a “hostile” workplace, according to the claim. Gruenberg did not say when Ward intends to file her lawsuit.

Tina Douglas, who served as interim superintendent during James-Ward’s administrative leave, will continue in her interim role until June 30, 2023.

Gerrymandering Lawsuit

A lawsuit against SDUHSD that claimed its redistricting of the election map last March illegally disadvantaged minority voters is currently waiting for a ruling as to whether it can be dismissed to mootness, according to a Sept. 22 legal hearing.

After concerns regarding the “timeliness and legality” of the district’s redistricted election map, the County took over the process and selected a map that is currently in use for the November school board elections.

The district argued that the lawsuit against their previously selected map is moot because the map was never used due to the county’s involvement. However, the plaintiffs argued that the district’s previous map could still be used in a future redistricting and that the district had used an illegal map selection process. They argued that therefore the map needed to be ruled illegal, according to a Sep. 21 motion to dismiss the case.

The judge is set to rule on the case in 90 days as of Sept. 22.

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