RALEIGH — North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed late last year against the North Carolina Governor’s School.
The Governor’s School is a summer residential program lasting four weeks for “gifted and talented high school students, integrating academic disciplines, the arts, and unique courses on each of two campuses.” Its operations are overseen by officials with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).
The motion, filed on Feb. 16, lists eight reasons for dismissing the suit, including “lack of personal and subject matter jurisdiction, and because Plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”
The reasons listed also include a failure to provide a claim for relief and did “not plead sufficient facts to properly allege that his rights under the North Carolina Constitution were violated.”
Additionally, the motion states “Plaintiff failed to state a case upon which relief can be granted regarding continued employment at the Governor’s School, as his Complaint reveals that he has no cognizable property interest in continued employment with Defendant Department of Public Instruction.”
The lawsuit was filed in late December 2022 in Wake County by the Alliance for Defending Freedom on behalf of English professor Dr. David Phillips following his “mid-session” termination in 2021.
The 61-page lawsuit alleges that following the optional lectures, a group of students and staff members showed “open hostility, referencing race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion in their comments and questions.”
Phillips’ firing came after he spoke out about “the harms of the racially divisive ideology embraced by the school,” according to the lawsuit filing.
“Mr. Phillips was an employee of Governor’s School during summer 2021,” NCDPI Communications Director Blair Rhoades said in an email response to North State Journal last December. “The Department of Public Instruction maintains that it fully complied with all legal requirements. However, as this is a personnel matter, no additional information can be shared at this time.”
A subsequent letter sent on Dec. 28, 2022 to members of the General Assembly by Republican state Superintendent Catherine Truitt rebutted many of the claims made by the lawsuit.
“Like all of you, this story gave me great pause and concern,” Truitt wrote. “This was the first time I had ever heard about this situation because a) I very rarely get involved with HR matters as state superintendent, particularly for employees hired for limited periods of time; and b) the teacher in question had never reached out to me with a complaint.”
She also said that most, if not all of Phillips’ Critical Race Theory claims that allegedly took place happened before she made several changes that took effect in 2022.
Truitt, who is not named in the lawsuit, also refuted the allegations that she had directed the inclusion of any questionable materials.
“I want to assure you that the accusations of curriculum decisions prior to my administration have been addressed. It’s not possible for me to verify what did or did not happen under a previous State Superintendent’s watch, but wokeness and inappropriate materials for our students should never enter the classroom,” Truitt wrote.
She also added she was proud of the work done by her agency to clean up multiple divisions that lacked oversight under previous leadership.