By Madeline Holcombe and Raja Razek, CNN
A Texas school district council unanimously voted a notice of a proposal not to renew a principal’s contract at the center of the critical race theory controversy.
James Whitfield, principal of Colleyville Heritage High School in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, received paid administrative leave in late August, a month after a former school board candidate publicly accused him of having “ extreme views on race ”and asked him to be fired.
Monday night’s vote is a procedural step and does not end Whitfield’s contract for the 2022-23 school year, said Gema Padgett, executive director of human resources for Grapevine Colleyville Independent School District. Whitfield will then receive a letter with details of the reasons and will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony, he said.
The controversy at and around Whitfield High School comes as several parents and community members across the state have called for critical race theory not to be taught in schools.
Over the past year, critical race theory has sparked careful discussions and protests at school board meetings, as well as among lawmakers who say teaching in classrooms should be banned.
However, educators have said that the theory, which examines the ways in which the history of inequality and racism has continued to impact American society today, is not included in the K-12 curriculum.
At a July 26 school board meeting, Stetson Clark, a former school board candidate, said he was concerned about the “implementation of critical race theory in our district” and named Whitfield as someone with “extreme views.” about race “.
“Because of his extreme views, I ask that a full review of Mr. Whitfield’s tenure in our district be considered and that his contract be terminated immediately,” Clark said at the meeting, citing a letter that said a friend shared that Whitfield sent parents and students last year, which Clark claims the principal “promotes a conspiracy theory of systemic racism.”
At Monday’s meeting, at which several parents voted in favor of Whitfield, the board presented the reasons for the proposed non-renewal.
“Because this has appeared in the media as a racial issue, many people have been hurt and confused, and for that reason I will say it clearly: this recommendation is not about Dr. Whitfield’s race. It’s not about images of Dr. Whitfield. “Dr. Whitfield. It’s not critical race theory. It’s not about certain individuals in our community calling for his resignation or dismissal,” said GCISD Superintendent Robin Ryan.
Some of the reasons cited by the board included deficiencies noted in the observation reports, assessments or evaluations and non-compliance with administrative or board regulations.
Whitfield’s attorney, David Henderson, told CNN that the board was reluctant to share information; “So everything they’ve given us so far is incomplete, including the information they gave us last night,” he said.
“My main response to what they have said today is to realize that we will have to go through a formal process where we can ask for more information to support their decisions before we fully know how to respond,” Henderson said. .
Before the vote, Whitfield offered another explanation for what prompted the vote: his apologetic stance on equality.
“Today I am in front of you in no different way than I was when I entered 18-19. I am an advocate for all children. I think all students, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, any bucket you want to put, I think everyone should have access to a fair and excellent education. Yes, I said those words, ”he said.
“The attack from outsiders is one thing, but the absolute silence and direct actions that the GCISD management team took towards me … were absolutely heartbreaking.”
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CNN’s Nicole Chávez contributed to this report.