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Former principal files defamation lawsuit against Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, trustee

DALLAS — Editor’s note: The video at the top of this article initially aired on November 8, 2021.

Dr. James Whitfield, the former principal at Colleyville Heritage High School, filed a $250,000 defamation lawsuit against Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District and board member Tammy Nakamura on Friday afternoon.

The six-page lawsuit alleges that Nakamura defamed Dr. Whitfield in breach of a settlement agreement that was reached with the school district last year.

Reads the lawsuit: “On June 26, 2022, GCISD Trustee Tammy Nakamura spoke at a public School Board Panel Discussion at the RNC Community Center in Dallas County, Texas. During this recorded address, Trustee Nakamura referred to Dr. Whitfield as a ‘total activist.’ She further stated that she reviewed Dr. Whitfield’s ‘whole file,’ and that the letter he sent denouncing discrimination and emphasizing that education is the key to overcoming it was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back…that got him fired.’ She went on to say that Dr. Whitfield was ‘pushing a movement through’ and that there was ‘absolute proof of what he was trying to do,’ and referred to teachers like Dr. Whitfield as ‘poison.’”

The RNC Community Center in Dallas County is run by the Republican National Committee. It opened in November 2021.

After the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Dr. Whitfield, a Black man, sent an email “denouncing discrimination and emphasizing that education is the key to overcoming it,” the lawsuit states.

Whitfield was accused of promoting critical race theory at GCISD. The school board put him on paid leave.

But just before trustees voted not to renew his contract, Dr. Whitfield and GCISD reached a settlement and he voluntarily resigned. Part of the settlement agreement said that neither Whitfield nor GCISD would retaliate or make disparaging remarks about each other.

The defamation lawsuit argues that Trustee Nakamura, as a GCISD Board Member, was bound by the terms of the settlement agreement.

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“Her disparaging comments about Dr. Whitfield clearly breached both paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Settlement Agreement. Dr. Whitfield’s reputation and his continued search for new employment have both been damaged by Trustee’s Nakamura defamatory comments,” the lawsuit states.

WFAA reached out to GCISD and Trustee Nakamura on Friday afternoon to request comment on the litigation. GCISD said they were made aware of the lawsuit late Friday afternoon but declined to comment further on the matter. Trustee Nakamura did not immediately respond to our request. 


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