GRAPEVINE (CBSDFW.COM) — The Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District school board has unanimously voted to propose non-renewal of Dr. James Whitfield's contract.
The Colleyville Heritage High School principal has been on paid administrative leave since late August. The district said their decision has nothing to do with allegations that he was teaching Critical Race Theory or the social media photos of him and his wife that officials found to be questionable.
At Monday night's meeting, dozens of students and activists showed up to support Whitfield.
"It's honestly so undeserved and unjust on the part of the school board," Colleyville Heritage senior Grace Nguyen said.
Colleyville Heritage senior Sunehra Chowdhury said, "It's been an overall negative effect and a lot of people in this district have felt as if something has shifted and it's not for the better."
During public comment, Whitfield and his wife addressed the board.
"I believe every student regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever bucket you want to put them in.. I believe they should have access to excellent equitable education," Whitfield said. "Yes, I said those words. Unfortunately, my unapologetic stance for those things has brought us here tonight which is disheartening."
"To watch individuals in leadership positions in this room who know my husband's heart yet side with these very people, you know better and my hope is that you'll do better," Whitfield's wife, Kerrie, said.
Ultimately the vote was not to terminate or non-renew Whitfield's contract. It's one step in a two step process to determine whether he will receive a contract for the 2022-23 school year.
During the meeting district officials gave several reasons for the proposal, some of which include:
- Performance concerns -- which include communication, situational awareness and the magnitude of a situation.
- Attempting to hide public records from discovery by deleting them from the sent and trash email files.
- Failure to comply with official directives. In multiple written communications with his supervisors, district officials said Whitfield has been disrespectful, unreasonable and insubordinate.
- Failure to meet the district's standards of professional conduct. Violating this by voicing concerns on Facebook, Twitter and to the media.
- Diminishing his effectiveness by dividing large sections of the community by continuing to raise issues of Critical Race Theory.
- Failed to maintain effective working relationships or maintain good rapport with parents, the community or colleagues.
At this time Whitfield, at the request of his attorney, said he can not give his thoughts on these reasons and their accuracy.
Dr. Whitfield will now receive a notice letter for the grounds of non-renewal and will have the opportunity to request a hearing before the board where evidence and testimony may be presented.
After the hearing or the expiration of 15 days, depending on Whitfield's choice, a second vote by the board will be held.
Whitfield's attorney told CBS 11 News he is not able to announce if they will request a hearing.
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