Californians For Equal Rights Files Complaint Against San Diego Unified School District For Unlawful Racial Discrimination in the Teacher and Staff Training Process


In April of 2021, the Californians For Equal Rights Foundation filed a formal complaint against the San Diego Unified School District for unlawful racial discrimination in the teacher and staff training process. The Californians For Equal Rights was also joined by San Diego Asian Americans for Equality, Southern California Asian-American Parent Teacher Organization, Educators for Quality and Equality, TOC Foundation, and US Asian Art & Culture Association.

The complaint protested a number of training requirements for teachers. For example, the class titled “White Privilege: Understanding Power and Privilege in Education” that was held between August 26th 2020 and September 4th 2020. Below is the presentation title slide and the “Land Acknowledgement” taken from the Appendix of the complaint.

Another example is the class, “Critical Self Awareness: An Intro into Anti-Racist Pedagogy”

“Between August 26th 2020 and September 4th 2020, Dr. Dulcinea Hearn and Ms. Ebonee Weathers also conducted a teacher training session as a part of SDUSD’s “Culturally Responsive Sustaining Practices & Ethnic Studies”, with the title “Critical Self Awareness: An Intro into Anti-Racist Pedagogy” (See Appendix C). Again, this was a mandatory training class targeting all SDUSD teachers and was given at various times between August 26th, 2020 and September 4th, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this training session was conducted virtually via zoom webinar where attendees couldn’t see each other or know the exact number of attendees.”

Directly on San Diego Unified School District’s Ethnic Studies website is a brief history of the program, including the following dates, resolutions, and events:

​March 23, 2015 – SDUSD approved an Ethnic Studies Resolution mandating the creation of the Ethnic Studies Advisory Committee

June 2016 – University of California A-G approved “Introduction to Ethnic Studies” 9th grade course

September 13, 2016CA AB 2016 mandated that the IQC write an Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum

Spring 2017 – UCSD Ethnic Studies Course Study Evaluation Project began

June 2017 – ESAC Bylaws developed and approved

September 2017 to January 2018 – ESAC in collaboration with district leadership developed a multi-year plan

December 4, 2017 – ESAC members visited model Ethnic Studies School District: El Rancho Unified School District

Summer/Fall 2018 – Five-day Introduction to Ethnic Studies professional development offered

Fall 2018 –  Facing History and Ourselves facilitated five-day professional development for 11th Grade US History 

Spring 2019 – Began developing Ethnic Studies US History course: “Identity & Agency in US History”

April 2019 – SDUSD School Board voted to require one Ethnic Studies course as a graduation requirement beginning with the graduating class of 2024

August 2019 – District Program Manager for Ethnic Studies, History/Social Science hired

Fall 2019 –  Facing History and Ourselves facilitated five-day professional development for 10th grade World History 

Fall 2019 – Began developing an Ethnic Studies World history course: “Power & Identity Around the World”

[TBD]June 23, 2020 – SDUSD School Board resolved to implement Ethnic Studies for All

Summer 2020 – All SDUSD teachers and staff provided with an opportunity to take a 90 minute introduction to Ethnic Studies professional development

September 2020 – 3 Full Time Ethnic Studies Resource Teachers and 3 Lead Teachers hired

September 2020 – The CA AB 331, that would require all California’s public school students to take a semester long Ethnic Studies course as a graduation requirement, was vetoed by Governor Newsom due to issues with the Ethnic Studies model curriculum. A new California model curriculum is being drafted.

January 2020 – Completed SDUSD Ethnic Studies Framework

Under the same website, in the Frequently Asked Questions section, the SDUSD Ethnic Studies defines its purpose as “meant to educate students about the full range of experiences, perspectives, contributions, and knowledge of People of Color that has been left out of the curriculum in order to foster greater understanding and eliminate oppression.”

The community response to Ethnic Studies Program at SDUSD has been astounding. On June 8th, 2021, community members, mostly made up of parents and students, rallied together to protest the proposed plan to implement ethnic studies for all students kindergarten through high school.