Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Freshwater ‘Show Trial’ Reconvenes - Day 15

Righting First Amendment Wrongs
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Now costing the Mount Vernon City School Board an Obamaspheric (for a small city) $250,000, so far, The contract termination hearing for John Freshwater restarted this morning at 9:00 AM. The Mount Vernon News website reported last week that the hearing, which had been scheduled to resume on Friday March 20th was rescheduled to resume today. It did. You can read my previous articles related to this hearing and this gross injustice.
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The following is a recap of the John Freshwater 'trial' for those who are unaware of this situation or want to be brought up to date on the latest. The following summary comes from an entry on the MountVernonNews.com report authored today by Pamela Schehl:

“The school board last spring launched an investigation into allegations of professional misconduct by Freshwater, and the investigative report by an independent firm concluded that he caused physical harm to a student with a high frequency electrical generator during a science experiment, overstepped his bounds as a monitor of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, promoted particular religious beliefs in the classroom while denigrating others and was insubordinate in refusing to follow directives from school administrators.

Freshwater, suspended without pay, requested a hearing to contest the board’s intent to terminate his teaching contract and maintains the board wants to fire him for simply keeping a personal Bible on his classroom desk.”

There is some question, in my mind at least, from what I know of the case, as to how unbiased the so-called “independent firm” had been in this case. After all, they were hired by the school board. There were quite a small number of students interviewed by the investigative team. To me the findings of the investigators seemed to be prejudiced against Mr. Freshwater.

The timing of the termination was also kind of questionable. Only after a parent of the child, who was alleged to have been “burned” or more likely “marked” by the Tesla coil, brought suit against the parties did Mr. Freshwater’s principal act in ordering him to remove what he felt were “religious” items from windows and Mr. Freshwater’s personal Bible from the top of his desk.

MORNING SESSION

Mount Vernon News reporter, Pamela Schehl indicated on her newspapers website that Mr. Jeff Maley, former Mount Vernon City Schools Superintended testified this morning. Part of the questioning had to do with the former superintendent’s knowledge of Freshwater’s proposal to teach evolution.

Dean Narcisco, Columbus Dispatch reporter, relayed the following account of Jeff Maley’s testimony in response to a hypothetical question, posed by Freshwater’s attorney, about evolution that might be brought up by a student in a science classroom, “(H)e’d expect a teacher to give a thoughtful but limited response and advise the student to instead to seek out parents for details.” Maley added, “I really believe that the religious beliefs of children should be impacted by their families."


Narcisco also related that Maley “defended the teacher as gifted at "conveying information to children."

Perhaps stepping across the line from reporting to editorializing, Narcisco conjectures, “But Freshwater's inability to separate his personal beliefs from his classroom instruction prompted complaints and an eventual standoff with the district. The reporter may have presumed this from Maley’s statement, which he quotes, "I believe that John, Mr. Freshwater, has a strong difficulty resolving his philosophical difficulties with the scientific community. I respect that struggle, by the way. He is very fervent about the issue of evolution being incorrect."

Besides the biased editorializing mentioned above, Narcisco mistakenly refers to Freshwater as being a ninth grade science teacher. He actually was an eighth grade teacher.

Since when can a man not have and express his personal beliefs and values anywhere and anytime? What ever happened to freedom to express one’s faith as expressed in article one of the Constitution? Apparently the state has taken that right away. However, those rights do not emanate from the state, but a endowed by our Creator. Here lies a basic problem with our current flawed and failing education system.

AFTERNOON SESSION

Seventh grade math teacher and fellow teacher of Mr. Freshwater at the Mount Vernon Middle School, Lori Miller’s, testimony began in the afternoon today and will be completed tomorrow.

In hearing her speak at the public session of past School Board meeting, Mrs. Miller spoke glowingly about Freshwater as a teacher, a person and role model for her and other teachers. She said that he had a deep love and concern for each of his children. He made each child feel welcome and special.

According to a second report of the day’s hearing on MountVernonNews.com, Lori Miller “talked about religious items in her classroom, described her use of a Tesla coil when she taught science, and outlined the efforts to reinstate the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the Middle School.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have your dates wrong. The school told him to remove his items in April. The lawsuit was filed in June. 2 months later