James Whitfield, principal of Colleyville Heritage High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, was put on paid administrative leave in late August, a month after a former school board candidate publicly accused him of having “extreme opinions on race” and called him get fired.
Monday night’s vote is a procedural step and does not terminate Whitfield’s contract for the 2022-2023 school year, said Gema Padgett, executive director of human resources for the Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District. Then Whitfield will receive a letter with details of the reasons and he will be given an opportunity to present evidence and testimony, she said.
The controversy in high school and around Whitfield comes as a number of parents and community members across the state have urged that critical race theory not be taught in schools.
Over the past year, critical race theory has sparked heated discussions and protests at school board meetings as well as among lawmakers who say it should be banned from being taught in classrooms.
At a July 26 school board meeting, Stetson Clark, a former school board candidate, said he was concerned about “the implementation of critical race theory in our district” and appointed Whitfield as someone with “extreme race opinions”.
“Because of his extreme views, I am asking that a full review of Mr. Whitfield’s tenure in our district be considered and that his contract be terminated with immediate effect,” Clark said at the meeting, citing a letter that he said a friend shared that Whitfield sent to parents and students last year – which Clark said showed the principal “promotes a conspiracy theory of systemic racism.”
At Monday’s meeting, where several parents spoke out in favor of Whitfield, the board presented the reasons for the proposed non-renewal.
“As it turned out in the media as a race issue, many people have been hurt and confused and for that reason I will say it clearly: this recommendation is not about Dr. Whitfield’s race. It is not about Dr. Whitfield. of photos of Dr. Whitfield. Whitfield. This is not a critical breed theory. It is not about some individuals in our community calling for his resignation or firing, “said Robin Ryan, superintendent of GCISD.
Some of the reasons given by the board included reported deficiencies in observation reports, appraisals or evaluations, and non-compliance with board or administration policies.
Whitfield attorney David Henderson told CNN the board is withholding information sharing; “So everything they have given us so far is incomplete, including the information they gave us last night,” he said.
“My main response to what they said today is the realization that we are going to have to go into a formal process where we can ask for more information that supports their decisions before we fully know how we are to react,” said Henderson. .
Ahead of the vote, Whitfield offered another explanation for what prompted the vote: his shameless stance on equality.
“I stand in front of you today, no different from what I was when I arrived between the ages of 18 and 19. I am an advocate for all children. I believe that every student, regardless of race, religion, their sexual orientation, whatever bucket you want to put them in, I think they should all have access to an excellent and fair education. Yes, I said those words, “he said .
“Attacking outside people is one thing, but the absolute silence and direct actions taken against me by the GCISD leadership team … were absolutely heartbreaking.”
CNN’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.