Judicial Watch announced on Wednesday that its client David Flynn, who was removed from his position as head football coach after exercising his right as a parent-citizen to raise concerns about critical race theory and Black Lives Matter propaganda in his daughter’s seventh-grade history class, settled his civil rights lawsuit against his former employers at Dedham Public Schools. As part of the settlement, the Superintendent of Dedham Public Schools, Michael Welch, acknowledged “the important and valid issues” raised by Flynn and specific changes in school policies because of Flynn’s complaint, including banning teachers from promoting Black Lives Matter to students online.
The Superintendent’s acknowledgment is the result of a February 2021 lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the superintendent, high school principal, and high school athletic director for retaliating against Flynn for exercising his First Amendment rights (Flynn v. Forrest et al. (No. 21-cv-10256)).
The superintendent wrote in the letter that Flynn’s concerns were valid and that the school district is amicable to the settlement:
I hope you and your family are well. I am writing this letter to acknowledge the important and valid issues you raised regarding the Dedham Public Schools and the subsequent lawsuit you filed in federal court. I am pleased that we are able to amicably settle this matter after the recently filed appeal of the court’s decision.
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge and validate the concerns you initially raised regarding your daughter’s experiences at Dedham Middle School. You had every right to inquire about these issues, and you followed the appropriate steps in attempting to learn more. You correctly pointed out that the 7th grade social studies curriculum had significantly changed and parents were not informed of these changes. In probing this matter further, you discovered that the district’s website did not accurately reflect the new curriculum content, and parents were unable to understand what was being taught. Your legitimate questions prompted additional conversations at the School Committee level that ultimately led to the establishment of a Curriculum Advisory Committee that now brings together parents, community members, and district educators to broadly review and more thoroughly communicate curriculum changes and concerns. Curriculum updates are a necessary and important part of the work of school districts, and effectively communicating these improvements is a critical component of this process.
Your initial inquiry triggered a larger internal conversation about the district’s oversight in the teaching of these new curriculum units. More specifically, the sequencing of the curriculum’s identity unit and the virtual use of a Black Lives Matter emoji t-shirt by a teacher sparked a series of intense conversations about teacher autonomy and the importance of balanced messaging and viewpoints in the classroom. As you pointed out, positive intentions can often have unintended negative impacts on students. Ultimately, I directed staff to remove these t-shirt emojis and instructed them to not wear these in the classroom in the future.
Finally, I understand that after you raised these concerns at the classroom level, you left that initial conversation expecting to hear directly from the building principal. It appears this was unclear within the school and you did not hear back in a timely manner. I am sorry for this breakdown. Effective two-way dialogue among parents and school staff is the foundation of mutual trust. While we pride ourselves on this connection, in this particular instance this fueled frustration and identified room for improvement.
I regret that these initial justifiable concerns ultimately led to where we are today. As you have indicated, I appreciate your recognition of the opportunity to have improved the trajectory of this sequence. With this settlement, I hope we are able to put any divisions behind us and begin the important work of healing through better conversations and listening.
I recognize the school district’s opportunity to improve based upon the issues you have identified, and I thank you for raising them. As educators, I believe we can always learn from our experiences. Thank you for your many years of dedicated commitment to the development of student-athletes in Dedham.
Michael J. Welch
“This a remarkable victory for Coach Flynn, as his federal civil rights lawsuit resulted in the Dedham School District admitting that he was absolutely right to be concerned about the district’s introducing a new, controversial CRT-style curriculum without parental notice or involvement,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And, Coach Flynn also appreciates that the teachers will no longer be able to use virtual learning to push Black Lives Matter symbols. It shouldn’t have taken a federal civil rights lawsuit for the school district to do the right thing. We hope other school officials take note they must treat parental curriculum concerns with respect and avoid radical indoctrination of children.”
“The past two years have been difficult for me and my family. I thank my family, friends, and everyone else who reached out for their continued support,” said Coach Flynn. “With Judicial Watch’s help, I can move on from this challenging situation knowing that by raising my concerns through the appropriate channels I made a difference for the students and families of Dedham Public Schools. I hope other parents can learn from this and not back down from fighting for what is best for their families.”
Judicial Watch lawsuits and FOIA requests on critical race theory and other leftist extremism are extensive:
- Earlier this month, Judicial Watch sued on behalf of a Minneapolis taxpayer over a teachers’ contract that provides discriminatory job protections to certain racial minorities. The lawsuit was filed against the superintendent of the Minneapolis Public Schools, the Minneapolis Public Schools, and the Minneapolis Board of Education for violating the Equal Protection Guarantee of the Minnesota Constitution.
- Judicial Watch in July 2022 sued the U.S. Department of Defense for records related to the United States Naval Academy implementing critical race theory in the training of naval recruits.
- Records produced in April 2022 from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) show the government agency responsible for regulating credit unions required “inclusion and unconscious bias training” for the agency’s employees and contractors and offered advice on how to recognize and address alleged “microaggressions” in the workplace.
- Records produced in February 2022 from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) included a PowerPoint presentation titled “Race and gender based microaggressions” that was used for training at the organization.
- Two sets of records obtained by Judicial Watch in November 2021 related to the teaching of critical race theory in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Maryland’s largest school system, included a training course with information about a book titled “Antiracist Baby” that introduces the youngest readers to “the concept and power of antiracism,” and says it’s the “perfect gift” for “ages baby to age 3.”
- Records from Loudoun County, VA, obtained in October 2021 revealed a coordinated effort to advance critical race theory initiatives in Loudoun County public schools despite widespread public opposition.
- A training document provided to Judicial Watch in October 2021 by a whistleblower in the Westerly School District of Rhode Island, details how its schools are using teachers to push critical race theory in classrooms. The training course was assembled by the left-leaning Highlander Institute and cites quotes from Bettina Love, from whom the Biden administration distanced itself publicly after her statements equating “whiteness” to oppression.
- Records produced in June 2021 by Wellesley Public Schools in Massachusetts confirmed the use of “affinity spaces” that divide students and staff based on race as a priority and objective of the school district’s “diversity, equity and inclusion” plan. The school district also admitted that between September 1, 2020, and May 17, 2021, it created “five distinct” segregated spaces.
- Heavily redacted records obtained by Judicial watch in May 2021from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) in Maryland included documents related to their $454,000 “Anti-racist system audit” and critical race theory classes. Students were taught that the phrase “Make America Great Again” was an example of “covert white supremacy.”