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NC Department of Education moves to dismiss conservative teacher's lawsuit

Updated: Mar 7

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) claims the legal team for the former Governor's School teacher has no case, though the State Superintendent publicly admitted he does.


Conservative teacher David Phillips PhD

DPI lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the case brought by Prof. David Phillips, who was fired after expressing conservative views during a lecture at the Governor's School. The DPI argues that the plaintiff lacks enough evidence for the claim to go forward in Superior Court.

According to documents submitted by Phillips’ legal team at Alliance Defending Freedom, DPI officials terminated the teacher without warning and after years of glowing employment reviews from his superiors.

Phillips sued the DPI and several of its officials in December, alleging, among other things, that the defendants violated his free speech rights. His lawsuit also included documents from DPI that point to racial and religious motives undergirding the department’s decision to terminate the teacher after eight years of employment.

Weeks after Phillips' suit became public, the state school superintendent, Catherine Truitt, sent a statement to the General Assembly defending her department's actions.

Superintendent Catherine Truitt

In her letter, Truitt admitted that the Governor’s School had an environment hostile to white staff and students, as well as to those who hold conservative political viewpoints, but she blamed that on her predecessor, Republican Mark Johnson.

Taking a page from the Left’s playbook, Truitt also alleged that it was Phillips who terminated himself after using “racial slurs” and belittling students in class.

Truitt's statement did not mention that neither she nor DPI officials brought these alleged complaints to Phillips' attention, and the allegations were not used as the basis for terminating him at the time.


Hal Frampton ADF Legal Counsel

Alliance Defending Freedom’s press release discussing Philips’ case can be found here. Phillips wrote about his motivation behind the lawsuit here. And a recent interview with Hal Frampton, Senior Counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, about the case can be heard here.

Alliance Defending Freedom is a conservative public interest law firm advocating for religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family. Started in 1994 by Christians, the group has defended the rights of Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and people of no faith.

Notably, Alliance Defending Freedom has worked to stop genocide against Christians, Yazidis, Shia Muslims, and other religious minorities.

In the US, the group has played various roles in over seventy-two U.S. Supreme Court decisions since it's founding. Approximately 80% of the cases filed by the organization are won, according to its media guide.

They famously defended Jack Phillips, a baker who was the subject of a high-profile suit after he declined to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Recently they defended a philosophy professor at a university in Ohio against the institution after it forced him to call a student by their preferred pronouns. The professor received a $400K judgment from the university for violating his religious rights.

Read DPI's motion to dismiss:

Download PDF • 417KB

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