Dr. James Whitfield, the first Black principal of Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas, has reportedly been placed on administrative leave without explanation. The school's decision comes just a few weeks after a tense school board meeting at which parents openly criticized him. Insider reports that one parent called for Whitfield to be fired because of his "extreme views" on race and equality. Another parent argued that Whitfield "promotes the conspiracy theory of systemic racism." Despite these comments, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District claims that placing Whitfield on administrative leave had nothing to do with the school board meeting.
"The decision to place Dr. Whitfield on administrative leave was not a result of statements made by members of the public, including those who spoke at recent meetings of the GCISD Board of Trustees. Nor was the decision made in response to allegations Dr. Whitfield was teaching Critical Race Theory, or because of the photos on his social media account that were brought to the attention of the District in 2019," a statement from the school district reads, according to CBS 11 in Dallas.
"We understand that members of our community have questions, but the District does not resolve personnel matters in the media. We have established procedures for that which we are following. We are fully committed to coming together and focusing first and foremost on providing an excellent education for all of the students we serve."
In a recent interview with Insider, Whitfield said that he felt "small, insignificant, and undervalued" prior to being placed on administrative leave. He also explained that he had been asked to remove a picture from his office that showed him embracing his wife, who is white. Above all else, he refutes the assertion that he teaches critical race theory because he doesn't teach any classes at all. To this point, Whitfield says he's been given no formal explanation as to why he's been placed on administrative leave.
"The only reason I've been given is that they believe it's in the best interest of the district," Whitfield explained to Insider.
"What I do know is that [the board of trustees meeting] happened on July 26. On August 30, this past Monday, I was put on administrative leave."
While the school district and local parents may have turned their back on Whitfield, his students have stood up for him. As criticism of Whitfield grew louder, students staged a demonstration in support of their principal.
"We embrace diversity" one sign read.
"We want inclusion," another sign read.