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CFER President Frank Xu speaking at PUSD’s board meetings. (Photo: CFER)

A DEI Superintendent Gets Sacked: A Good Win from Southern California

Woefully unqualified individuals in important leadership positions hurts the integrity and competitiveness of our institutions

By Wenyuan Wu, February 9, 2024 12:01 pm

Many Americans, like the 68% majority who support the Supreme Court’s ruling against race-based college admissions (based on a January 2024 Gallup poll), are becoming weary of the constant drumbeat of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). The woke DEI agenda replaces equality with equity, merit with shallow skin-color representation, and free speech with ideological conformity.

Oftentimes, the woke agenda justifies the recruitment and promotion of woefully unqualified individuals to important leadership positions, which inevitably hurts the integrity and competitiveness of the institutions that hired these individuals. The rise and fall of the Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps of the Poway Unified School District (PUSD) is a perfect example of how ideology overtakes merit to damage public education and erode public trust.

In April 2017, Dr. Marian Kim Phelps was confirmed as the Superintendent for the PUSD, a top-performing K-12 public school district in San Diego. At the time, the school board had a split vote which selected Dr. Phelps over a more qualified but less “diverse” candidate for the role. Dr. Phelps, a DEI appointee who made $418,514 in pay and benefits last year, actively promoted antiracismequity and restorative justice in the school district within her administration. The all-encompassing campaign to inculcate students and staff into upholding DEI and critical race theory has caused concerns and disapproval among parents and community members, while PUSD students’ test scores suffered.

Then, the struggles between PUSD’s equity-minded bureaucrats and those who want education, transparency and accountability reached a boiling point when a lawsuit was filed against Dr. Phelps, her entire leadership team and the PUSD Board in November 2023. The legal filing, along with a wave of organized grassroots protests, makes the case that Dr. Phelps engaged in conflict of interests and retaliated against those who challenged her questionable conduct. Specifically, Dr. Phelps launched a self-interested bid to help her daughter gain recognition and popularity in her high school softball team. Her dissenters charge that the school board intentionally covered up for Dr. Phelps to defend the status quo and their power structure, at the expense of integrity and public trust. Laughably, the scandal that brought down this superintendent started when she lashed out at students and staff for not clapping loudly enough for her daughter at a softball banquet.

In Poway, local organizing and legal risks worked hand in hand as the impetus for a long-overdue redress away from the DEI craze. Behind the grassroots campaign are courageous parents, students, teachers and residents who showed up at every school board meeting to demand an investigation into Dr. Phelps. The local community was activated and mobilized by the PUSD Community Watch (PCW), a local watchdog that has built trust and awareness on the issue.

This is a solid win for local stakeholders who organized effectively to exert consistent pressure on the leadership. It is also a cause to celebrate for those, including my group the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER), who believe that the key to win the culture war is strategic local organizing. In the case of Poway, we offered research analysis and technical support to the community watchdog. In the meantime, CFER President Frank Xu, a Poway resident, participated in the success by speaking up at PUSD’s board meetings on 11/9/2023, 11/15/2023, 12/14/2023(and again at the same meeting), and 1/18/2024.

Our strategy for winning the culture war, detailed during CFER’s 2023 conference, involves building up “Queen” organizations at the school district level to monitor education policies, organize parents and others, and effectively challenge the teachers’ unions. It has worked.

The deposing of a DEI educrat did not happen coincidentally or in a vacuum. This success story in Poway Unified also mirrors an earlier victory in the San Dieguito Union High School District, where its DEI-focused former superintendent was fired due to our efforts to educate and encourage parents. We are strategically moving forward in the ongoing culture war against illiberal forces and ideologies which are attacking America’s foundational values, parental rights and education. In time and with persistence, we shall prevail.

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10 thoughts on “A DEI Superintendent Gets Sacked: A Good Win from Southern California

  1. Excellent news. Congratulations on this victory. Powerful and impressive presentation from CFER President Frank Xu. I think we are more than ready to see more dominoes fall —– may it happen soon!

  2. We don’t get good news often in Commufornia. It’s nice to see it show up once in a while. Congratulations to all of those that worked to fire overpaid and underperforming Dr. Phelps.

  3. Really good article. Frank Xu is awesome. This gives me hope that the country hasn’t gone totally crazy (i.e., woke kindergarten teachings at bay area school). Thank you Wenyuan Wu for everything you do and for bringing this information to us.

  4. Hopefully this DEI cancer will continue to be eradicated from public schools. Home schooling is sometimes the best option if parents can make it work.

  5. “Oftentimes, the woke agenda justifies the recruitment and promotion of woefully unqualified individuals to important leadership positions, which inevitably hurts the integrity and competitiveness of the institutions that hired these individuals.”

    A case in point: Claudine “I got yer plagiarism right here” Gay, the thoroughly disgraced and fired president of Harvard. She was appallingly unqualified and dishonest but she sure checked a lot of woke checkboxes.

  6. Excellent. Let’s keep building these local Wins where we can, and try to reverse course in the State Assembly and break the Mega Majority of the Dems.

    1. No Newsom – Speaking of which, Asm Chris Holden, who has been in the news here at The Globe lately for his disastrous fast-food minimum wage bill, now law, is now termed out of his District 41 Assembly seat. (He’s running for an L.A. County Supervisor seat, God forbid, but I digress.)
      Four candidates are on the March 5 primary ballot to fill the Assembly District 41 seat. Three of them are Dems who appear to be even farther to the left than Chris Holden. The good news is that a real Repub is running and from all indications is a fine candidate. If you live in Asm District 41 consider voting for Michelle Del Rosario Martinez:

    2. In addition, Mr. Gun Control himself, Sen. Anthony Portantino in District 25, is termed out of his State Senate seat. (He’s running for Congress, sigh.)
      Three Lefty/Dem candidates are running for the District 25 Senate seat. The good news is that another real Republican is also running. And she ALSO looks to be a fine candidate.
      If you live in State Senate District 25, consider voting for Elizabeth Wong Ahlers:
      YES, as commenter No Newsom indicated, let’s chip away at this Dem mega-majority legislature, one by one. The time is ripe.

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