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NC Governor’s School settles with professor fired after CRT criticism

‘Teachers shouldn’t be fired for fostering intellectual diversity on campus,’ attorney says

The North Carolina Governor’s School will pay out four years of stipends and promise to respect its instructors’ free speech to settle a state lawsuit from a former professor.

The summer school for gifted high school students previously fired David Phillips, a community college English instructor, after he criticized critical race theory in a seminar.

“After Phillips delivered three optional seminars in June 2021 critiquing critical theory and the increasing bias and lack of viewpoint diversity in higher education, North Carolina public school officials fired him mid-session without any explanation,” Alliance Defending Freedom previously stated after filing the initial lawsuit.

Now, two and a half years later, the issue has come to a close.

ADF, who represented Phillips, stated in a news release:

As dictated by the settlement agreement, the North Carolina Governor’s School has paid Dr. David Phillips approximately four years of his annual stipend and adopted a policy to respect faculty free speech in its elective seminars—like the ones Phillips gave shortly before he was fired. The policy affirms the Governor’s School’s desire “to offer elective seminars that present a wide range of viewpoints.” And it states that the school “accords faculty members the freedom and responsibility to craft academic and intellectual experiences that reflect their unique viewpoints and expertise.”

“Teachers shouldn’t be fired for fostering intellectual diversity on campus. A good education includes providing students with a wide range of differing viewpoints to explore,” ADF Senior Counsel Hal Frampton stated in the news release.

The professor “was beloved, respected, and well-regarded by both students and faculty as an advocate for students who felt that their voices weren’t being heard and their perspectives weren’t welcomed at the Governor’s School,” according to Frampton.

“We’re pleased to favorably settle this case on his behalf. Now, the Governor’s School’s policy rightly respects teachers’ freedom of speech, which greatly benefits all students and families,” the attorney stated.

Phillips began offering his optional courses after seeing how the school was embracing CRT ideologies.

“Several years ago, in an effort to promote viewpoint diversity and counter the increasing ideological orthodoxy I saw at the school, I began offering lectures presenting alternatives to critical race theory and identity politics and critiquing the lack of viewpoint diversity in American education,” he wrote in The Carolina Journal in 2023.

“My intention was not and has never been to persuade students to adopt my own beliefs,” he wrote.

“What I intend is that they should challenge their own presumptions, experience other points of view, and draw their own reasonable conclusions from thoughtful analysis so they will see the value in diversity of thought.”

MORE: Penn State funds ‘decolonial graphic novel,’ other CRT art projects

IMAGE: David Phillips/LinkedIn

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