James Whitfield, the first Black principal of Colleyville Heritage High School in Grapevine, Texas, has lost his job after months of accusations that he indoctrinated students by teaching Critical Race Theory in his school.
Colleyville Heritage High School is a majority-white high school in Texas.
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.
According to criticalracetheory.org, critical race theory is an academic movement which seeks to link racism, race, and power.
Unlike the Civil Rights movement, which sought to work within the structures of American democracy, critical race theorists challenge the very foundations of the liberal order, such as rationalism, constitutional law, and legal reasoning.
In a report by Al Dia, 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.
The controversy started at a July school board meeting, where former school board candidate Stetson Clark called on the district to fire Whitfield.
Clark took issue with a message Whitfield sent to students and parents after the murder of George Floyd, calling on district families to resist racism.
Clark said the message promoted “the conspiracy theory of systemic racism” and encouraged people “to destroy our businesses, our school district, our city, even our state.”
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.
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.”
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.
“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,” Whitfield said.
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