Colleyville Heritage principal posts about racial attacks after call for his firing

·5 min read

The principal at Colleyville Heritage High School posted on social media that he is breaking his silence about racial attacks against him after he was publicly accused at a recent school board meeting of teaching critical race theory by a former school board candidate who called for his firing.

James Whitfield, who was named Colleyville Heritage High School’s first African-American principal in 2020, posted that during the July 26 board meeting, he was publicly named and accused of teaching critical race theory by a member of the public. He said he does not teach critical race theory and that being publicly named at a board meeting goes against district rules.

Whitfield said in an interview Tuesday night that he decided to write his Facebook post after the board meeting when Stetson Clark, a former school board candidate who spoke at the meeting, referred to him by name, which is against district rules.

“What broke the camel’s back was that I watched the school board meeting online. There were people who should have had my back. The fact that they didn’t was disappointing,” he said.

Whitfield said he has asked for a public apology, but has not received one yet.

Whitfield said in a lengthy Facebook post that he has been attacked for the past several months and that he worked to shield his family from the attacks.

“At the last GCISD school board meeting, an individual was allowed to speak my name in a public open forum (against the rules) and I can no longer maintain my silence in the face of this hate, intolerance, racism, and bigotry,” Whitfield wrote on Facebook.

“For the better part of the last year, I’ve been told repeatedly to just ‘get around the fact that there are some racist people’ and ‘just deal with it and stay positive’ each time the racist tropes reared their heads, but I will stay silent no longer. I cannot ask people to speak up if I am unwilling to do so myself, and just because I am a school administrator that does not take away my rights and ability to be human and defend myself,” Whitfield wrote.

Clark said during the school board meeting he was concerned about the implementation of critical race theory in the district, specifically the views and goals of Whitfield. Clark called for Whitfield to be fired.

Clark said he became concerned about Whitfield’s views when a friend showed him a letter the principal sent to parents and students.

“In this letter he promotes the conspiracy theory of systemic racism ...” Clark said. “He’s repeatedly tweeted approval of these books that promote this disruption of our community and country.”

School board president George Rodriguez did not respond to a message seeking comment.

In his Facebook post, Whitfield also said he was asked in 2019 by the district to take down photos he and his wife had taken on a Mexican beach to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. The district released several photos of Whitfield and his wife on the beach that it said were called to its attention. In some of the photos, Whitfield’s wife is lying on the beach while Whitfield is kissing her.

Whitfield said he was forwarded an email with concerns about those photos.

“I checked my email and saw what they were talking about. Before I describe the email I just want to point out for those who haven’t checked my profile, my wife is White. As I read the forwarded email it said, ‘Is this the Dr. Whitfield we want as an example for our students?’ And the picture attached was a picture of my wife and I kissing on the beach in Mexico during a trip we took for our 10-year anniversary. I showed my wife and I could tell she was already getting upset — tears were welling up, but I was still awaiting the callback,” Whitfield wrote.

The Grapevine-Colleyville school district said in an emailed statement that the request to remove the photos had nothing to do with race.

“When a social media concern is brought to the attention of the district, we have a responsibility to review it. Some of the photos the district received contained poses that are questionable for an educator, especially a principal or administrator. It had absolutely nothing to do with race,” the school district said in the statement.

The district said that complaints about the social media posts were received in 2019 after Whitfield was promoted to principal at Heritage Middle School. He was named principal at Colleyville Heritage High School in 2020.

“As a new campus principal, we wanted to provide a smooth transition for Dr. Whitfield to Heritage Middle School, which is why we advised him of the concern and made a request for the photos to be taken down from Facebook.

“The photo that aired in initial media reports was not the only photo that was received by the District. Had that photo been the only image, there would have been no request to remove it.”

In his Facebook post, Whitfield said he had not taught critical race theory and that his goals are to be loving and accepting to everyone.

Whitfield wrote that he was criticized for speaking out after the death of George Floyd and for his support of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

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