Carter in the classroom

North Texas school district votes to sue embattled principal for legal fees

The school district board voted 6-0-1 at a public meeting on Monday

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this report said Whitfield was fired by the school district. Whitfield and the district parted ways, he was not terminated. We regret the error.

Board members of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District have voted to approve the pursuit of legal action against a former high school principal who previously sued them.

Dr. James Whitfield, the former principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, has been at the center of controversy since 2021 and was expected to attend Monday's school board meeting.

Whitfield and the school district parted ways three years ago after a group of parents accused him of racially dividing Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and promoting what they saw as a "woke agenda."

In 2023, Whitfield sued the school district for breaking a confidentiality agreement. However, he lost the court battle, and now Grapevine-Colleyville ISD wants Whitfield to pay their legal bills.

On Monday, the school board voted 6-0-1 to sue Whitfield to recover the legal costs of that lawsuit.

Darius Bowie
Members of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District approved a vote on Monday, May 20, 2024, to take legal action against former Colleyville Heritage High School principal Dr. James Whitefield.

In an interview with NBC 5 in 2021, Whitfield said the district failed to defend him against the attacks, even ordering him to take down photos on social media of him and his wife on a beach.

Whitfield stated that Grapevine-Colleyville ISD told him they had complaints about the photos from their parents. 

A North Texas school district asked a principal to remove a photo of him and his wife not due to race but because of questionable poses in other pictures.
NBC 5 News
A North Texas school district asked a principal to remove a photo of him and his wife, not because of race but because of questionable poses in other pictures.

After several board meetings where Whitfield's supporters and opponents faced off, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and Whitfield parted ways. In a settlement agreement, they agreed not to disparage one another.

Then, new board member Tammy Nakamura spoke at a Republican town hall meeting, where, according to a legal complaint filed by Whitfield, she called him an activist and talked about his personnel file. Whitfield filed a lawsuit but lost.

The school district said it has been facing challenges recovering from the Whitfield situation. It is now seeking reimbursement from the former principal for its legal expenses in defending itself against the lawsuit he filed, claiming to act in the best interest of taxpayer funds.

A district survey in 2023 found that 65% of those polled felt the district was headed in the wrong direction. In May 2024, school board members of opposing viewpoints were elected, each by tiny margins. This shows the district is divided almost equally in terms of leadership.   

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