Parents, teachers and students were furious when a beloved Texas high school principal was suspended from his job at Colleyville High School last month. Dr James Whitfield, the school’s first black principal, was placed on administrative leave after being accused of pushing critical race theory into the school’s curriculum. Now, it seems their attempts to save him have all been in vain. On Monday evening, the Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District voted unanimously not to renew Whitfield’s contract.
After a lengthy discussion on budgeting and tax rates, board members opened the floor to community members who had prepared speeches to share in support of Whitfield. After being warned by the board that there would be no ânoise or applauseâ during the segment, nearly three dozen participants stepped onto the podium on behalf of Whitfield.
âI grew up in the Jim Crow South, and what’s going on here isn’t particularly new. It’s an old playbook, âsaid a resident of Grapevine, who said she lived in the area for 10 years. “But to beat him, we have to start being very clear about what’s right and what’s not – or we’re going to continue to be intimidated by a reactionary minority.”
âIt is not acceptable to make baseless accusations about what our schools teach, especially when all you know about the subject is what has been said by professional propagandists. It is not acceptable to show contempt for another human being by making salacious comments about their familyâ¦ To the advice: It is not acceptable to punish a respected educator for defending himself when you have failed. could not find the intestinal courage to defend it like you, yourself, I should have done.
In the summer of 2020, as a racial awakening swept the country after the George Floyd protests, Whitfield wrote a letter to the college community. In it, he said: “Education is the key to overcoming ignorance, hatred and systemic racism.”
This letter appeared to spark accusations that he was defending critical race theory in school.
In July, Whitfield was accused by a defeated school board candidate of supporting the critical race theory taught in schools. Shortly thereafter, Whitfield was placed on paid leave. The Superintendent of Grapevine-Colleyville Schools then submitted a request that Whitfield’s tenure as principal of Colleyville Heritage High School end.
There is no evidence that critical race theory is part of the school curriculum, and Whitfield has insisted he has shown no public support for it.
After receiving the news, Whitfield said in a Facebook post: âI have not received any clear reasoning behind the decision and have not been given a timeline for next steps. was in the best interest of the district.
Monday’s meeting was not the first time the community has spoken out about what they called unfair treatment of Whitfield. Students have planned school walkouts and parents have expressed their support for Whitfield on social media.
At Monday’s meeting, a Colleyville High School graduate who said she also served as an assistant coach for 15 years for a few district school debate teams said, “Maya Angelou said,” When someone shows you who he is, believe it the first time. ‘ … Dr. Whitfield also showed us who he is: he is warm and welcoming to his students … he is also a man of principle. He has also shown us that he is ready to hold us accountable as a diverse community where white voices have long drowned diversity. … We should all talk less and listen to Dr Whitfield more.
As applause erupted and council was to remind attendees that there would be no noise of any kind, a parent from the district stood up to give a speech.
“I have started a petition on behalf of this gentleman here,” the woman said, pointing to the management of Whitfield. âThis petition now has over 2,200 signatures. “
Another parent – and a former Grapevine High School student – said she loved growing up in the area “but what I saw happen, it makes me really sad.” She continued, “[Whitfield] is known by his supporters as an enthusiastic educator and not as the bogeyman of the CRT. And speaking for himself, he’s under attack even though we have a diversity advisory board to do what he and the rest of the district should be doing. “
Nonetheless, the board approved Monday evening that Whitfield’s contract would be terminated at the end of the current school year. He still has the option of appealing the decision and bringing Colleyville high school into the 2022-2023 school year. He will have to present evidence and testimony to plead his case if he wants to start a new contract.
Critical race theory has become a point of contention for conservatives and racist veterans who find theory unpatriotic. It focuses on how racism has been systemic in American culture, how certain groups of people have benefited from it, and how others have not. Although educators in the K-12 domain have been quick to attack the ideology, it is usually mostly taught in law schools.
Whitfield is the first black principal in the 25-year history of Colleyville High School. He took on the role in 2020.