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Published February 02, 2024

Another Victory! DEI Hire Poway Unified Superintendent Placed on Administrative Leave

DEISchool BoardAlliance

The ousting of Superintendent Phelps, a DEI appointee who actively promoted anti-racism, equity and restorative justice in the PUSD, is a solid win for PUSD students, local parents and community members who organized effectively to exert consistent pressure on the leadership. It is also a cause to celebrate for CFER because our proposal to win the culture war through local organizing has been proven as a winning strategy.

by

Frank Xu

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I can’t wait to report to you a great development in CFER’s persistent fight against the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) ideology! Yesterday (02/01/2024) afternoon, Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps of the Poway Unified School District (PUSD), a school district where I have lived and raised my family, was put on paid administrative leave amidst an investigation regarding a series of bad conduct she committed in her position of power.

The ousting of Superintendent Phelps, a DEI appointee who actively promoted anti-racism, equity and restorative justice in the PUSD, is a solid win for PUSD students, local parents and community members who organized effectively to exert consistent pressure on the leadership. It is also a cause to celebrate for CFER because our proposal to win the culture war through local organizing has been proven as a winning strategy.

As a resident and taxpayer, I proudly 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. I wanted to use my actions to demonstrate the power of local organizing.

To recap, PUSD Superintendent Phelps abused her powers to bully members of a sports team at Del Norte High in PUSD, engaged in conflict of interests and retaliated against those who challenged her questionable conduct. The PUSD Board had refused to hold Phelps accountable until local stakeholders took action. A lawsuit, coupled with the impressive grassroots work by the PUSD Community Watch (PCW), a local watchdog that activated and mobilized the entire community, became the impetus for the grassroots campaign to force the PUSD Board to start the investigation that led to Phelps’s ousting. Concerned parents, students, and community members showed up at every board meeting to demand accountability and leadership, while PCW and CFER collaborated to raise awareness on the issue.

In its first year after being established by parents and residents to advocate for student success, transparency, and parental rights, the PCW has already grown into an established local watchdog, providing strategic and emotional support for PUSD local stakeholders. Its effectiveness in holding the local school district accountable is a touchstone of CFER’s big strategy for winning the culture war. Our strategy, which I elaborated on 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. I am proud to say that the strategy works!

The ousting of PUSD’s top DEI appointee did not happen coincidentally or in a vacuum. It shows that we are strategically moving forward in this ongoing culture war against illiberal forces and ideologies which are attacking America’s foundational values, parental rights and education. This success story in Poway Unified also mirrors our earlier victory in the San Dieguito Union High School District, where a DEI-crazed former superintendent was let go, partly due to our efforts to educate and organize local parents. We have achieved two big wins in just two years and we are determined to continue on this upward trajectory.

In PUSD, we will keep on cooperating with the local community and our partner PCW to monitor the school board’s investigation and the lawsuit to make sure the process is fair and transparent. Throughout California, I will work with my CFER team to promote our strategy of building capacity from the ground up to win the culture war. To this second point, I am honored to be invited to speak at an upcoming event hosted by CFER’s partner the California Policy Center (CPC) to discuss our experience and strategy in CFER’s advocacy work. Held in Sacramento between March 12 and March 13, CPC’s “Parents, Not Partisans” 2024 summit will be a highly informative convention of experts, advocates and parents. You can RSVP for the event here.

I hope the victory in the PUSD gives you hope and encouragement as we press forward. If you are ready to start organizing in your local school district, reply to this email so that we can discuss how to help you. If you believe in CFER’s strategy and our delivery, please help us expand our impact and reach with a kind donation today!


Contact:

Wenyuan Wu

wenyuan.wu@cferfoundation.org

About Californians for Equal Rights Foundation (CFER):

We are a non-partisan and non-profit organization established following the defeat of Proposition 16 in 2020, with a mission to defend and raise public awareness on the cause of equal rights through public education, civic engagement and community outreach. In 1996, California became the first U.S. state to amend its constitution by passing Proposition 209 to ban racial discrimination and preferences. Prop. 209 requires that “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.” CFER is dedicated to educating the public on this important constitutional principle of equal treatment.

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