A high school football coach who led a Massachusetts school district’s team for nearly a decade was fired in early 2021 after he raised concerns about the use of critical race theory in his 7th-grade daughter’s curriculum.
David Flynn, with the help of Judicial Watch, filed a federal lawsuit in February seeking damages from Dedham Public School (DPS) administrators including the superintendent, high school principal, and high school athletic director for violating his First Amendment rights to speak out.
The lawsuit explains that Flynn was released from his position just a few months after talking with his 7th-grade daughter’s history teacher, principal, Superintendent Michael J. Welch, and three more people on the Dedham School Committee about the quiet changes to the middle school’s “World Geography and Ancient History I” curriculum without notification or review by the parents.
These changes, Flynn complained, included “coursework on politics, race, gender equality, and diversity that were not suitable for twelve- and thirteen-year-olds,” subjective coverage of these topics, literature, and other class materials that “labeled all police officers as risks to all black people and all black males as risks to white people,” and the teacher’s blatant support for Black Lives Matter.
The lawsuit describes one of the daughter’s assignments:
Plaintiff’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.”
The school’s lack of action on these concerns, however, forced Flynn and his wife to remove their two children from the DPS system. In an October 2020 email, Flynn wrote that the superintendent failed to ensure teachers were presenting course information objectively and without bias.
“I believe all relationships are based on compromise. The Superintendent was not willing to compromise. I explained to him that if the teacher teaches the course objectively and removes the BLM logo from the class, people will soon get over the fact that the class was purposely created without notifying parents and without having a visible course curriculum, syllabus, and learning objective,” Flynn wrote. “Apparently, it does not mean much to him that the Dedham Public School System is losing two wonderful students.”
In January of 2021, Welch confronted Flynn about his concerns and told him that the school was “going in a different direction.” Immediately after the meeting, the superintendent, high school principal, and athletic director publicly stated that Flynn would no longer serve as head football coach because he “expressed significant philosophical differences with the direction, goals, and values of the school district.”
Flynn has a significant personal history with the district, including graduating from the high school in 1989 shortly after leading the school’s football team in an undefeated season, championship, and on their journey to the Eastern Massachusetts Super Bowl. He was also given a spot in the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002 and later served as assistant football coach from 2002-2006 before transitioning into his head coaching role in 2011.
“This is my hometown. This is where I want to live and raise my family. When the opportunity arose, I knew it was really special,” Flynn said in 2011, shortly after he was hired.
It was during his time as head coach, the lawsuit notes, that he significantly improved the team’s skills and record and “rebuilt his hometown team by dedicating his life to his players.”