A Black Texas high school principal who was accused of being a Critical Race Theory (CRT) proponent has been placed on paid administrative leave. The announcement of Dr. James Whitfield’s suspension as principal of the Colleyville Heritage High School was made by the superintendent of the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District on Monday, NBC5 reported.
And though the reason for Whitfield’s suspension wasn’t given in an email Superintendent Robin Ryan sent to parents, the announcement came over a month after a man accused Whitfield of teaching critical race theory and “the conspiracy theory of systemic racism” during a school board meeting, The Washington Post reported. Whitfield, who denied the accusations, is the high school’s first Black principal.
“I can no longer maintain my silence in the face of this hate, intolerance, racism, and bigotry,” Whitfield wrote in a Facebook post some days after the meeting. “I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman. I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be.”
During the meeting in question, the man also mentioned the suspended principal by his name several times while calling for his dismissal. But school board policy prohibits the mentioning of people’s names during such meetings. Other meeting attendees also openly called for Whitfield’s termination and cheered the man.
“I have done nothing wrong by anyone,” Whitfield said in a statement to NBC5 after his suspension. “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.”
This isn’t the first time parents in the school district have had a bone to pick with Whitfield. In 2019, a parent reportedly registered her displeasure over a Facebook photo the Black principal shared of him and his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The complaint from the parent wasn’t long after he was appointed principal.
“Is this the Dr. Whitfield we want as an example for our students?” the parent questioned in an email to the school district, Whitfield recalled in a Facebook post. The school district asked the Black principal to take the photo down to prevent the issue from aggravating.
Despite the recent controversy and calls for his dismissal, students rallied around him to offer their support.
“I was not given any clear reasoning behind the decision and was not given a timetable regarding further steps,” Whitfield wrote on Facebook. “I was simply told that it was in the best interest of the district.”
The topic of teaching Critical Race Theory in schools has become a hugely debated one. Conservative politicians have vehemently opposed it on the grounds that it is the next vicious liberal that will undo America. In the latter months of his bumpy presidency, Donald Trump singled out CRT as a liberal agenda that meant to divide the United States.
“There’s no credence to the CRT claims,” Whitfield told The Washington Post. “This group that has spoken out against me has a problem with inclusivity, with embracing diversity and with providing equitable experiences for all students.”