Principal Accuses District Of Racism After Demanding He Remove Photos

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A Texas high school principal has accused a school district of racism after his boss demanded that he remove some photos from social media, asking whether the images represented a person they wanted “leading our schools.”

Colleyville Heritage High School (Photo credit: Google Maps)

Dr. James Whitfield, a 43-year-old black man, was left dumbfounded by an email he received the day he became the principal of Colleyville Heritage High School in Colleyville, Texas. The correspondence was from his boss and in regards to photos Dr. Whitfield had posted on social media, which the school district obviously felt was a bad representation of the school’s new principal. They wanted the images taken down.

The photos in question, which were included in the email, depicted Dr. Whitfield embracing and kissing his wife Kerrie. The images were taken during a beachside photoshoot in honor of the couple’s anniversary and had been posted to social media. “I look at the picture, and I look at the words above it, and it says, ‘Is this the Dr. Whitfield we want leading our schools?’ I showed it to my wife, who immediately begins to well up with tears,” Dr. Whitfield recalled.

James Whitfield
Dr. James Whitfield, pictured with his wife (Photo Credit: Screenshot)

According to Dr. Whitfield, the images weren’t the real issue. Rather, race was at the forefront of his bosses’ decision to force him to take down photos of the black high school principal kissing his white wife as he accused the district of racism. Both Dr. Whitfield and his wife said they teared up upon reading the email, believing that it implied that there was something wrong with their interracial marriage, the Daily Mail reported.

Of course, the district tells a different story. In a statement, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District claimed the request was made to encourage a “smooth transition” as Dr. Whitfield became the Colleyville Heritage High School’s first black principal. Dr. Whitfield wasn’t buying it, however, claiming that the photos received complaints because the images featured an interracial couple.

The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District distributed a photo showing some of the images to news organizations. (Photo Credit: Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District)

Although Dr. Whitfield removed the photos and worked for the district for two years following the ordeal, he finally decided to go public with the story after a heated meeting between Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District officials and parents over race, according to The New York Times.

During the meeting, which is seen below, some parents accused Dr. Whitfield of pushing critical race theory (CRT) and programs that ensured equality and diversity. “Some speakers who identified themselves as parents complained of a ‘social justice’ focus in the curriculum or criticized ‘political activism’ concerning race in the district,” the outlet explained.

Upset by the remarks made at the meeting and the incident with the photos that had occurred two years prior, Dr. Whitfield decided to take to Facebook to share his story and draw attention to the issue, saying the district sought to hold him, as a black educator, to a different standard.

“I am not the CRT Boogeyman. 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,” Dr. Whitfield wrote on Facebook.

James Whitfield
Dr. James Whitfield (Photo Credit: Facebook)

“For the better part of the last year, I’ve been told repeatedly to just ‘get around the fact that there are some racist people’ and ‘just deal with it and stay positive’ each time the racist tropes reared their heads, but I will stay silent no longer,” Dr. James Whitfield continued in his lengthy Facebook post, in which he went on to recall the incident involving the email and the photos of him and his wife.

Of course, the school district claims the problem isn’t the couple’s skin color, but rather the intimate poses depicted in the photographs. “When a social media concern is brought to the attention of the district, we have a responsibility to review it,” a statement from the district said. “Some of the photos the district received contained poses that are questionable for an educator, especially a principal or administrator. It had absolutely nothing to do with race.”

James Whitfield
Dr. James Whitfield, pictured with his wife (Photo Credit: Facebook)

Like Dr. Whitfield, some parents aren’t buying the district’s explanation, and the first black principal of the school has received an “overwhelming” outpouring of support from the community. “I think it’s sweet,” Sunni Roppollo, whose children attend Colleyville Heritage High, told NBC, referring to the images of the principal romantically embracing and kissing his wife. “He’s a happily married man. It’s he and his beautiful wife, they have a beautiful family.”

While the critical race theory and racism was undeniably an issue of debate at the school district meeting, with some parents raising concerns about Dr. Whitfield’s alleged “extreme views,” was race and his interracial relationship an underlying issue when he was asked to remove the photos? Or, was their nature, which might be described as “risque” by some, the real issue? If it’s the latter, where do we draw the line? A man should be able to embrace his wife and post a picture that depicts a loving relationship. However, when does such an image become “too sexualized” for an educator, who’s supposed to be a role model for our children? You decide.