Principal targeted for photos of him kissing white wife put on paid leave over critical race theory
Category: News & PoliticsVia: john-russell • 2 weeks ago • 4 comments
By: honeycombmoms (Daily Kos)
A Black Texas principal once targeted for posting on Facebook pictures of himself embracing his wife, a white woman, has now been placed on paid leave indefinitely in the same school district after parents accused him of teaching critical race theory. Colleyville Heritage High School principal James Whitfield was placed on leave for reasons Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Superintendent Robin Ryan refused to get into, citing "a personnel matter," according to The Dallas Morning News .
“I have done nothing wrong by anyone,” Whitfield told the newspaper. He said he was put on leave because “the superintendent has ‘determined that doing so is in the best interest of the District.’” Whitfield is the first Black principal to lead the school. He has outright denied what he calls “baseless allegations” raised at a school board meeting that he has been teaching critical race theory. The framework maintains the U.S. legal system and the laws it has produced are rooted in racism. And while stories like Whitfield’s ironically point to just how much truth there is in the theory, educators have been banned from teaching the framework in many places as Republicans use misunderstandings about the theory as a means of further whitewashing history instruction.
“I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman,” Whitfield wrote in a Facebook post responding to allegations against him on July 31. “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. But here’s the deal – I’m here, so let’s dive into their claims about me.”
Whitfield went on to write:
“In late spring of 2019, I was named Principal at Heritage Middle School after serving one year as Assistant Principal at Colleyville Heritage High School. Those in education know that it is rare for someone to come in from "the outside" of a district and ascend to promotion in that short of a time, but I digress. In leading up to planning for the fall semester, I was asked by a colleague if I would be interested in presenting with her and another female colleague on Breaking the Barriers and talking about our differences. This would be a choice session for our professional learning day in the fall and would need to be approved by the district prior to being published. My colleague curated the presentation and I happily joined them in sharing my experiences and story during this presentation in the fall, as I believe there is power in understanding varied voices and hearing people with other lived experiences than myself. Meeting people where they're at is something I hold near to my heart.
Unfortunately, this presentation has been used to vilify my colleagues and me. The fact that they know I am not the creator of this presentation and falsely label me as such is one piece of how race plays into their hateful agenda. Again, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the presentation, it was approved for us to present by the district, and it was a choice session (amongst many others) that people had a choice to attend. Those who attended had a desire to talk about our difference and work towards growing as humans - how dare we.”
Whitfield also said in his post that his critics disproved of his support of the Southern Poverty Law Center, specifically his recommendation of author Lonnie Bunch III’s A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump.
They disapproved of his response to the murder of George Floyd, which happened the week after Whitfield had started his position as principal of Colleyville Heritage High School. His response was to send his school community this message:
”That’s it – that’s the email,” he later wrote in revealing the email. “I will defend my words and my right to speak up against hate, intolerance, and bigotry. Do you want to guess how many replies I got in opposition to this email sent in early June 2020? Zero. Zilch. Nada.”
And even before the email incident, Whitfield’s critics targeted him for photos he took with his wife on a beach in Mexico, where they were celebrating their five-year anniversary. He had just been named principal of Heritage Middle School on June 27, 2019 when he got a call from a central administrator not to congratulate him about the new position, but warn him of an email that had just been sent to him.
The email contained a photo of Whitfield kissing his wife and was followed by a call from an unnamed individual asking Whitfield to take down the photos down. "Well, we just don’t want people to stir up stuff,” the person reportedly told Whitfield. He wrote after the encounter:
“As I got off the phone my wife sat there in tears. I tried to do my best to console her as we both tried to grapple with what just took place. We hid the photo, no one from ‘above’ ever mentioned anything else about it, but the damage was inflicted on us in profound ways.”
His superior’s alleged response then was as disgusting as it is now regarding allegations against Whitfield. This is not how you support Black educators.