Colleyville Heritage High School principal James Whitfield tendered his resignation Monday night after months of "disputes" between him and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, the district says.
Whitfield's resignation, which is effective Aug. 15, 2023, was part of a settlement agreement between the principal and the district, on which the school board signed off in a special meeting Monday.
Whitfield will remain on paid administrative leave until August 2023.
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At that September meeting, the district 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.
"I stand before you today no different than I was when I came in '18-'19. I'm an advocate for all kids," Whitfield told the board on Sept. 20. "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."
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.
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 gathered hundreds of signatures.
The district said critical race theory nor the photos were the reason Whitfield was placed on leave, instead, calling it a "personnel matter."
He and the district issued the following statement Monday night.
The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District and Dr. James Whitfield have been in the media frequently in recent weeks concerning the disputes between them. Both the district and Dr. Whitfield each strongly believe they are in the right. However, each also agrees that the division in the community about this matter has impacted the education of the district's students. In addition, the time, expense and disruption for both Dr. Whitfield and the district would continue for some time and would further harm the education district students. The district and Dr. Whitfield have mutually agreed to resolve their disputes. Dr. Whitfield and GCISD strongly agree it is important we continue to provide a safe and nurturing education environment to all students no matter their background race or gender. The district and Dr. Whitfield wish the best to each other in the future and the district and Dr. Whitfield have agreed that this will be their only public statement on this 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.