Massachusetts School Officials Deny Firing Football Coach Over Political Differences

Beloved football coach David Flynn says school violated his First Amendment rights

Dedham High School Football Coach David Flynn | Tony McLeish, Facebook
March 19, 2021

A Massachusetts high school denied allegations that they fired a football coach after he expressed concerns about his daughter’s seventh-grade world history curriculum. 

Former Dedham High School head football coach David Flynn sued Dedham Public Schools in February after the district refused to renew his contract following a disagreement with school officials. Flynn and his wife had previously contacted Dedham superintendent Michael Welch about their daughter’s world history class, in which the teacher asked students to analyze a cartoon that depicted police officers as a "risk" to black people. 

Welch, Dedham High School principal Jim Forrest, and athletic director Stephen Traister denied that they fired Flynn as a result of the conflict, according to new court documents reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. Dedham Public Schools spokeswoman Sara Errickson declined to answer a Free Beacon inquiry into the nature of Flynn’s firing. 

The school officials confirmed details of Flynn’s lawsuit in the new filings but denied that they fired him as a result of the disagreement. A prior announcement from the district, however, claimed Flynn was fired because he "expressed significant philosophical differences" with school officials. Michael Bekesha, a senior attorney for Judicial Watch—the group working on Flynn’s case—told the Free Beacon that he looks forward to squaring that discrepancy at an upcoming court-ordered conference.

"The only thing [the district officials] really deny is that Flynn was provided any indication for the reason for his firing … and they deny it without providing any context," Bekesha said. "Everything else is admitted. It seems to strengthen or at least show that Flynn’s lawsuit is based on facts."

The Dedham community has rallied around Flynn since his firing. Members of a Facebook group called "Save Coach Flynn" have sent letters to the district, calling on them to "right their injustice and reinstate Flynn as head coach." Supporters have held rallies outside of Dedham High School continually for the past two months. 

A former Dedham high school football player told WCVB News in January that he was "devastated" over Flynn’s departure. 

"Coach Flynn is an awesome guy and we’re all devastated that they fired him," Kevin O’Leary said. "Coach Flynn and Dedham football, it’s like broccoli and cheese sauce, can’t have one without the other."

Last fall, Flynn and his wife emailed Welch and school committee members to express concerns about their daughter’s history class. Flynn claims in his lawsuit that parents were not notified of changes to the seventh-grade world history curriculum that included work on bias and race. Flynn and his wife argued that the coursework was "not suitable for twelve- and thirteen-year-olds."

Middle school history teacher Kim Randall taught the online class via Google Classroom, in which she allegedly created an avatar of herself that donned a Black Lives Matter T-shirt. In one lesson, Randall asked students to evaluate a cartoon that depicted police officers as "risks" to black people, and black people as "risks" to white people. 

The Flynns emailed district officials about their daughter’s class on several occasions. They decided to remove their two children from Dedham schools in October after they felt their concerns fell on deaf ears, which they believed had resolved the controversy. 

Then in January, Forrest, Traister, and Welch called Flynn into a meeting to inform him that the district would not renew his contract. Flynn had "never been provided any indication" that he would be fired prior to that meeting. The former coach claims in his lawsuit that the district retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment right to freedom of speech. 

Flynn is seeking damages for loss of pay, harassment, and emotional damages as a result of his firing. He began coaching at Dedham High School in 2002 and was promoted to head coach in 2011. Flynn also teaches special education students in a town outside of Dedham. 

The first court-ordered conference regarding the case is scheduled for April 26.