Critical controversy over Colleyville principal’s racial theory sparks free speech lawsuit against district

Update at 8:45 p.m. with the judge’s decision.

A judge refused to issue a temporary restraining order against Grapevine-Colleyville ISD on Monday after a president of the Grapevine Republican Party precinct claimed board chairman Jorge Rodriguez and the district had violated his rights to freedom of expression.

Mitchell Ryan’s lawsuit says he was barred from speaking at length about Colleyville Heritage manager James Whitfield at a board meeting in August. The district has a policy prohibiting speakers from identifying district employees and others by name during the open public forum, and Ryan mentioned Whitfield by name.

U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman of the North Texas District said there was insufficient evidence that a policy to limit speech was unconstitutional, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

The move comes the same night that Grapevine-Colleyville ISD school counselors gathered for a regular school board meeting, a week after a special meeting brought the group closer to not renewing the struggling principal’s contract.

In the lawsuit, Ryan said he tried to speak for Whitfield but Rodriguez wouldn’t allow him to continue. Rodriguez asked Ryan to stop using Whitfield’s name, to which Ryan asked if the president was trying to stop him from speaking.

GCISD spokeswoman Kristin Snively said the no-name policy had been in place since 2004, with little change.

Ryan retained the services of Austin-based Tony McDonald as a lawyer. McDonald is the general counsel for Empower Texans, a statewide conservative political group that supports Republican candidates with hard-line conservative views.

Ryan did not speak at the public forum for Monday night’s meeting, despite his attorney’s claim last week that he planned to do so.

According to a copy of the lawsuit posted on the Colleyville Citizens for Accountability Facebook group, Ryan sought “nominal damages, actual damages and an injunction to remedy the unconstitutional restrictions on Mr. Ryan’s rights protected by the First Amendment.”

Lawsuit Says Ryan “Has Been and Will Be Banned From Addressing Board Of Directors Regarding Principal Whitfield’s Efforts To Promote Criticism [race] theory at Colleyville Heritage High School.

He also states that Ryan opposes critical breed theory and speaks out about Whitfield’s “efforts to promote it,” and that the board can reasonably expect Ryan and others share their opinions on the matter.

At a July 26 board meeting, former school board candidate Stetson Clark made several references to Whitfield’s name in an attempt to claim that the principal, who is on paid administrative leave, was responsible for introducing critical breed theory to the district.

The district and Whitfield have repeatedly stated that Critical Race Theory, an academic framework that examines how policies and laws support systemic racism, is not taught in the GCISD. After months of back-and-forth, Gov. Greg Abbott enacted a bill that seeks to further ban critical race theory from Texas classrooms, even after educators and advocacy groups stand up. be fought against this decision for months.

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