Education A National Roundup

Calif. District Rescinds Offer to Schools Chief; Race Raised as Issue

By Lesli A. Maxwell — June 06, 2006 1 min read

After voting to hire the first Vietnamese-American superintendent in Orange County, Calif., the Westminster district last week rescinded its offer after two school board members in the Southern California district changed their minds.

KimOanh Nguyen-Lam, who taught for 14 years and was most recently the associate director of the Center for Language Minority Education and Research at California State University-Long Beach, was hired on May 23. The board voted 4-1 to give Ms. Nguyen-Lam the top job in the 10,000-student district, which is predominantly Asian-American and Latino.

A week later, however, two members changed their votes to no, forcing the board to withdraw its offer, according to The Orange County Register. Board President Blossie Marqez and member Sergio Contreras, who are Latino and supporters of Ms. Nguyen-Lam, said the reversal by the other board members, who are white, was prompted by race, according to the newspaper.

Board member Jo-Ann Purcell, who cast the only dissenting vote the first time, chafed at the accusation and called it “insulting.” Ms. Purcell told the newspaper that Ms. Nguyen-Lam’s lack of experience was the reason for withdrawing the offer.

A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 2006 edition of Education Week