grapevine-colleyville isd

Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Trustees Vote to Move Forward With Process of Firing Whitfield

Principal James Whitfield was not fired Monday, but the process is moving forward for that to happen

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The Grapevine-Colleyville ISD school board approved a proposal Monday not to renew the contract of suspended Heritage High School principal James Whitfield.

Board members voted 7-0 on a recommendation from Superintendent Robin Ryan and repeatedly said the vote was a "procedural" step that would allow Whitfield to make his case.

The district publicly revealed for the first time its reasons for the recommendation of nonrenewal. The allegations include deleting emails as a public record, insubordination, failing to cooperate with an internal investigation and being dishonest with the media.

The district cited multiple meetings with Whitfield's bosses to address the subjects.

Whitfield was not fired Monday, but the process is moving forward for that to happen, or at least for him to get a hearing on the allegations against him. He was placed on administrative leave late last month.

Thirty-five parents, students and community addressed the school board Monday night -- all of them in support of Whitfield.

"The decision is yours. Make it the right one and the one that history can look back on proudly," resident David Benedetto said during public comments.

Whitfield had his own opportunity to speak to trustees.

"I stand before you today no different than I was when I came in '18-'19. I'm an advocate for all kids," he said. "I believe every student regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever bucket you want to put them in, I believe they should have access to excellent equitable education. Yes, I said those words."

Several members of the Next Generation Action Network attended the meeting in T-shirts with their logo emblazoned across the front. They were asked to turn their shirts inside out because of a rule against "signage" at board meetings.

Whitfield, who is Black, was named principal of Colleyville Heritage ahead of the 2020-21 school year and was soon after accused online and in board meetings of teaching critical race theory.

"I have done nothing wrong by anyone," Whitfield said in a statement on Aug. 30. "I’ve only chosen to speak up after they allowed that man to speak my name at the board meeting. Instead of speaking out against the behavior … they came after me."

Whitfield said he was also asked to take down anniversary photos of him and his wife, who is white, embracing on the beach. A district spokesperson said some of the photos "contained poses that are questionable for an educator, especially a principal or administrator."

A petition in support of Whitfield has been signed hundreds of times.

The district said critical race theory nor the photos were the reason Whitfield was placed on leave, instead, calling it a "personnel matter."

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical race theory is a way of thinking about America’s history through the lens of racism. Scholars developed it during the 1970s and 1980s in response to what they viewed as a lack of racial progress following the civil rights legislation of the 1960s. It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that they function to maintain the dominance of white people in society. The architects of the theory argue that the United States was founded on the theft of land and labor and that federal law has preserved the unequal treatment of people on the basis of race. Proponents also believe race is culturally invented, not biological. Read more about CRT here.

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