Fort Worth school board fires two high school principals after pleas they be reinstated

The firing of two principals in the Fort Worth school district drew a crowd at the district’s monthly school board meeting Tuesday, but trustees pushed forward their recommended terminations with no reasons given. .

Eastern Hills High School Principal Katrina Smith and Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School Principal James Garcia were fired after board members discussed their personnel issues in a closed session, leaving the public with no indication why they were removed from their positions.

Smith’s removal was approved in a 7-0 vote with board members Roxanne Martinez and Tobi Jackson abstaining; Garcia’s removal was approved in a 8-0 vote with Martinez abstaining again.

Multiple teachers, students and family members defended Smith and Garcia during public comment, highlighting their leadership on their respective campuses and calling on board members to reinstate them. Dozens of people stood in solidarity when both principals were mentioned by speakers.

Smith and Garcia did not return phone calls or emails to the Star-Telegram when seeking comment prior to the meeting.

Kalyn Smith, daughter of Katrina Smith, said her mother has been an educator for 26 years, 22 of which have been in the Fort Worth ISD. She described her mother as a “positive, uplifting and motivating individual.”

“This past month has been very challenging for her because she’s not able to do what she loves to do, which is to engage with and educate her students,” she said. “Her character and integrity, until now, has never been questioned. Every school in the district where my mother has been a leader has thrived.”

Roxanne Rodriguez, a Diamond Hill-Jarvis High parent and president of the school’s athletics booster club, said Garcia’s absence has resulted in issues with drinking water for students and maintenance of the school’s athletic fields.

“Since Mr. Garcia has been the principal of Diamond Hill, we have seen the campus gain stability, make academic growth and significantly improve parent and community engagement,” she said. “It is deeply concerning how the district is treating our veteran principals at some of our highest-need campuses with no regard to impact on our students.”

Smith has been principal at Eastern Hills High since 2017, according to the school’s website. Garcia has been principal at Diamond Hill-Jarvis High since 2016 and an educator with the Fort Worth ISD since 1997, according to his LinkedIn profile.