The public termination hearing for John Freshwater finally began earlier this month. The public hearing was at the request of John Freshwater. Part one of the hearing was held on Thursday, October 2, 2008, and Friday, October 3, 2008. The school board presented its side of the case. School Superintendent Steve Short, over the course of the two days, spent nearly eight hours being cross examined by the attorneys of the School District and Mr. Freshwater's Attorney.
The hearing recessed until Tuesday, October 28 and should be concluded this month. Beginning on Tuesday, October 28 John Freshwater will begin to present his side of the case before the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) referee. The hearing was to have been in two parts with the second beginning in mid October, however the attorneys had a conflict in their schedules so part 2 was reset to take place beginning tomorrow and conclude this week.
John Freshwater was suspended without pay since the summer and according to an OneNewsNow.com, a national news service, October 4, 2008 report, “John Freshwater has been working odd jobs in order to make ends meet while waiting to plead his case in an open hearing." The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether Freshwater will be able to keep his job as a science teacher at an Ohio public school.” Mr. Freshwater, a middle school science teacher refused to remove his personal bible from the top of his desk and the school district has trumped up additional charges and a case to have his teaching contract terminated. Among the charges are allegedly branding students during a science experiment, allegedly daring to question the theory of evolution in his past teaching (dating back to a time when teaching evolution was acceptable in Ohio), and daring to pray with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) group, which he was serving as monitor. He is also accused of teaching religion in class.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 3, 2008
According to the testimony reported on the Columbus Dispatch website on October 4, 2008 Steve Short, the Mount Vernon City School District Superintendent, admitted that he, too, had kept a Bible verse on the wall of his office (it was part of a picture the his son made for him) prior to the Freshwater investigation. The first day's hearing consisted of opening statements and questioning of Mr. Short.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2008
According to an account of the questions asked of Mr. Short by the School Board’s attorney the MountVernonNews.com detailed the following. Superintendent Short was asked, “Is the Bible (on the desk) the reason (that he recommended firing Freshwater)?” he asked.
““No,” replied Short.
“He said it had to do with four main reasons: The Tesla coil mark on students’ arms; Freshwater teaching beyond the approved curriculum and bringing religion into the classroom; Freshwater overstepping his bounds as FCA monitor; and Freshwater’s refusal to remove items from his classroom when directed to do so.”
Columbus’ NBC-4 reported on its website, “Hearing referee Lee Shepherd said he would submit a written report of his findings to the school board after the hearing was complete and that the board would determine whether Freshwater should be fired.
The termination hearing will resume tomorrow, Tuesday, October 28, 2008 at 9:00 AM.
I believe that Mr. Freshwater will be fully exonerated at the conclusion of the hearing. However, the School Board will still fire him, and he will have to pursue further legal action against the School Board. They will hope that he will run out of money and determination to do that. The School Board hopes that he will just go away.