A high school principal in North Texas who was placed on leave after being publicly accused of promoting critical race theory has agreed to leave his role.
James Whitfield, principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, and the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District reached an agreement to part ways after months of controversy. The decision was announced after the district’s trustees voted unanimously during a special meeting Monday to approve the “agreed settlement and separation agreement” with Whitfield.
Documents obtained by CNN indicate Whitfield will remain on paid administrative leave until August 2023, when his resignation will become effective.
The district will continue paying Whitfield his current salary, documents show, and he will be restricted from work-related communications unless he is asked by district officials to provide consulting services or speak with students and the media. In the case that Whitfield takes a job at another school district in Texas, he will no longer received wages from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, the agreement shows.
In a joint statement, Whitfield and the district said both parties “strongly believe” they are in the right. They mutually agreed to resolve the dispute because they have seen how it has impacted students’ education.
“Dr. Whitfield and GCISD strongly agree it is important we continue to provide a safe and nurturing educational environment to all students, no matter their background, race, or gender,” they said in the joint statement. “The District and Dr. Whitfield each wish the best to the other in the future.”
Whitfield, who is the first Black principal of Colleyville Heritage High School, was placed on paid administrative leave in late August after a former school board candidate publicly accused him of having “extreme views on race” and called for him to be fired.
The principal has previously said he did not try to institute teaching critical race theory in the school. His role as principal did not include classroom instructor, Whitfield explained.
In late September, the school board laid out its reasons for why they believed his contract should not be renewed including: performance and communication concerns, behavior to supervisors, failure to express concerns appropriately, and more.
Whitfield denied the school board’s claims there were performance issues with him. During that September meeting, Whitfield spoke about his stance on equality.
“I stand before you today no different than I was when I came in 18-19. I am an advocate for all kids. I believe every student, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever bucket you want to put them in, I believe they all should have access to excellent, equitable education. Yes, I said those words,” he said.
Whitfield told CNN in September that he thought his “unapologetic stance” on inclusion was the reason why he was being pushed out of his job.
“All I’ve done is tried to create a space where all students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, you know, their religion, sexual orientation. I’ve tried to create a space where all students feel safe to come to school and for some people, that is not what school is supposed to be in their point of view,” Whitfield said.