In the spring of 2020, James Whitfield had just been appointed as Colleyville Heritage High School’s first African American principal. This school was situated in a largely white Dallas-Fort Worth suburb.
When students returned in the fall, Whitfield, who has a doctorate in teaching, was prepared for significant obstacles. In-person education had already been discontinued by COVID-19, and the pandemic was set to exacerbate an already severe teacher shortage.
Then George Floyd’s killing, an unarmed Black man who was killed by a Minneapolis policeman while being arrested outside of a convenience shop.
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Days after Floyd’s passing and unable to sleep one night in early June, Whitfield wrote an email to his friends and coworkers. He wrote about “systemic racism” and pondered solutions for its eradication.
In the months that followed, however, pressure on him increased as internet chatter heated up among those he calls “[conservative] operatives here in Texas that are trying to take over school boards,” and there were even indirect aspersions cast on his biracial marriage, according to Whitfield, who at first received “nothing but positive responses… from people in the community, parents, family members [and] staff members.”
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A year after his email and weeks after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law banning CRT in K-12 public school classrooms, Whitfield was accused at a school board meeting of promoting the concept. He denied the charge, but soon after, the board voted not to renew his contract, which expires in August 2023. In the meantime, Whitfield is on paid administrative leave.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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