Judicial Watch announced today that the trial date has been set for September 12, 2022 in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of a Massachusetts father who was fired from his position as high school football coach after raising concerns over Black Lives Matter/critical race theory being taught in his daughter’s seventh-grade ancient history class. (The Court has also set a hearing on Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment for Monday, April 11 (see below).)
The lawsuit was filed by Judicial Watch on behalf of David Flynn, the father of two Dedham Public School students. He was removed from his position as head high school football coach after exercising his right as a parent-citizen to raise concerns about his daughter’s seventh-grade history class curriculum being changed to include biased coursework on politics, race, gender equality, and diversity (Flynn v. Forrest et al. (No. 21-cv-10256)).
The lawsuit details that in September 2020, Flynn’s daughter’s seventh-grade history class, which was listed as “World Geography and Ancient History I,” was taught issues of race, gender, stereotypes, prejudices, discrimination, and politics. The lawsuit explains:
In one assignment, Flynn’s daughter was asked to consider various “risk factors” and “mitigating factors” that two people – one identified as “white” and the other identified as “black” – purportedly might use to assess each other on a city street. Included among the various factors were skin color, gender, age, physical appearance, and attire. “Black,” “aggressive body language” and “wrong neighborhood” were among the “risk factors” purportedly assessed by the person identified as “white.” “White” and “Police officer” were among the “risk factors” purportedly assessed by the person identified as “black.”
Concerned about the abrupt change in curriculum, Flynn and his wife contacted the history teacher and principal of the school – then later Superintendent Michael J. Welch and three members of the Dedham School Committee. On more than one occasion the Flynns asked for assistance in resolving the issues with the curriculum. Ultimately, in October 2020, the Flynns removed their children from school. The Flynns’ list of concerns included:
- Dedham Public Schools changed the curriculum of the seventh-grade history class without notifying parents or having a course description and syllabus available for parents to review
- The new seventh-grade history class curriculum containing coursework on politics, race, gender equality, and diversity that were not suitable for twelve- and thirteen-year-olds;
- The seventh-grade history teacher not teaching topics of politics, race, gender equality, and diversity objectively;
- The seventh-grade history teacher using a cartoon character of herself wearing a t-shirt supporting a controversial political movement; and
- The seventh-grade history teacher using class materials that labeled all police officers as risks to all black people and all black males as risks to white people.
In January 2021, Flynn, who had been the head football coach at Dedham High School (DHS) since 2011, was called into a meeting with Welch as well as the DHS principal and athletic director. At the meeting, Welch handed Flynn one of the emails he had written to the Dedham School Committee members and informed him that one of the committee members asked Welch, “What are we going to do about this?” At the end of the meeting Flynn was told that they, “were going in a different direction” with the football program. Minutes later, the superintendent, high school principal, and athletic director released a public statement, stating that Flynn was removed as head football coach because he “expressed significant philosophical differences with the direction, goals, and values of the school district.”
“Coach Flynn was fired for exercising his First Amendment rights to object as a citizen and father to extremist racial propaganda in his child’s history class. The federal trial over this abuse can’t come soon enough,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
On Monday, the Court will hear arguments about Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment. In response to the superintendent’s, high school principal’s, and high school athletic director’s assertion that the case should be dismissed on qualified immunity grounds, Judicial Watch argues:
Defendants have not demonstrated a legitimate reason why Dedham Public Schools’ interests outweighed Flynn’s First Amendment rights. No case has even come close to suggesting speech outside the confines of the classroom (or football field) could be a disruption to the educational mission of the school district. Similarly, no case comes close to concluding that parents’ strong views of how a school district handled concerns about their child’s education is not protected speech.
The summary judgment hearing will be via video conference:
Date: Monday, April 11, 2022
Time: 10:00 am ET
Location: The media/public can register two days in advance to “attend” the virtual conference at https://forms.mad.uscourts.gov/courtlist.html.
A video presentation regarding the case is available here.