Black principal in Texas forced to resign over ‘critical race theory’ dispute
James Whitfield was the first Black principal in the history of Grapevine, Texas, and the district later admitted to never teaching the subject.
The Black principal of a majority-white high school in Texas who has been entangled in a dispute over critical race theory was forced to resign after months of accusations that he indoctrinated students.
On Monday, Nov. 8, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District board of trustees voted to part ways with the principal, James Whitfield, who was suspended this year from Colleyville Heritage High School in the Fort Worth area.
Texas is one of a handful of states that have passed legislation aiming to ban the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 public school classrooms.
“This is beyond me,” Whitfield said in an interview with NBC News.
“I’m hopeful that we can use this to move forward and to progress and get some true meaningful change and for people to be OK with teaching truth, people to be OK with embracing inclusivity and diversity, celebrating every student that walks through the doors of our schools,” he continued.
Colleyville, Texas high school principal Dr. James Whitfield has lost his job following accusations that he promoted critical race theory to students.
Join us for his exclusive interview with @ahylton26 at 6:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm CT (check listings). pic.twitter.com/I2mLM60wQB
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) November 9, 2021
Whitfield will remain on paid administrative leave until August 2023. In a joint statement, the school district and Whitfield said that they had reached an agreement to “resolve their disputes.”
“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,” the statement read.
Parents alleged that Whitfield was pushing CRT in his classrooms. There is no evidence that the high school or Whitfield taught CRT, but a series of incidents made him a target in recent months.
Parents grew outraged after Whitfield participated in a district-approved presentation on diversity, and after he wrote an email about the murder of George Floyd, in which he stated that systemic racism was “alive and well.”
Conservative organizers and parents have gripped onto the phrase ‘critical race theory,’ using it as a way to call out any lessons or programs they deem un-American and that have the potential to make white students feel collective “guilt.”
Some people at the school board meeting on Nov. 8 felt that the controversy was strictly political, but others said it paints the community in a negative light.
Colleyville Heritage High School alumna Mia Sanghvi, said that the controversy was outrageous and it just highlighted the “subtle racism” that has always existed in Grapevine.
"It’s just outrageous that we’ve come to this point. I’ve lived in Grapevine my whole life, and of course there’s, like, that subtle racism, but now I'm starting to feel unsafe in my own community,” Sangvhi told NBC News.
Even though Whitfield is leaving his job, he said he intends to stay in the education field and hopes that this controversy is the start of a larger conversation.
Today I spoke to @DrJamesWhit, the now former principal of Colleyville Heritage High School.
He lost his job last night after a months-long controversy over critical race theory.
We talked about his future & what he wants his students to know:https://t.co/G4o5czgW1V
— Miranda Suarez (@MirandaRSuarez) November 9, 2021
“Education is my heart and soul. That’s my purpose. I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t have somebody that was there leading that way and guiding me towards better things,” he said.