Monday, March 02, 2009

Freshwater Termination Hearing Day 14

Righting First Amendment Wrongs

I have been following this case for almost a year. You can read my previous posts here.

The termination hearing for Mount Vernon middle school science teacher John Freshwater resumed last Friday. Freshwater is the teacher accused of insubordination for refusing to take his personal bible off of his desk and subsequently for allegedly marking one of his students with a Tesla coil during a class science experiment.

Freshwater’s attorney, Kelly Hamilton had prepared several affidavits from several students. He was intending to have the parents of those students speak regarding those sworn statements. Mr. Freshwater preferred that the identities of those students not be made public. However, the school board’s attorney, David Millstone, objected to having the parents speak on behalf of their children. He argued that what they would say would be mere hearsay. The referee agreed and did not allow any of the parents to testify for the children.

The hearing was recessed Friday morning until Hamilton could get some of the students to leave school to testify personally. The hearing did take place Friday afternoon when three students did respond to attorneys questions.

The Mount Vernon News reported that the three students answered questions about their experiences in Mr. Freshwater's science class, speaking specifically to the use of a Tesla coil and whether religion was taught in the classroom.


Due to the unavailability of additional witnesses, the hearing was adjourned until March 20.

STUDENTS TESTIFY

Saturday’s (2/28/09) Mount Vernon News records the testimony of one of Mr. Freshwaters 8th grade science students from the last school year. Corbin Heck, the student, said that he had taken part in the Tesla coil event. He recalled feeling a “brief tickle” when the coil touched is arm. He indicated that it did leave a slight mark on his arm afterwards. In addition Heck said that he “sort of laughed” when he saw the photos of the alleged marks left by the “burning” or “branding” of Zach Dennis, whose parent brought suit against the School Board and Mr. Freshwater.

Heck is quoted by the Mount Vernon newspaper reporter as saying, “This is more dramatic than what I saw on anybody else’s arm and I didn’t see it on Zach’s arm [at the time].” Furthermore, Heck revealed that Zach Dennis even laughed when the coil was applied to Zach’s arm.

This first hand account by a fellow student seems to strongly point to a serious exaggeration or embellishment or even some potentially falsified photographs on the part of Zach Dennis. Those photographs depicted something very much different than what young Heck saw. Something is very fishy.

COMMENT

The testimony of Corbin Heck Friday was very damning to the allegations made by Zach Dennis. Perhaps the additional testimonies of more students will shed greater light on what actually happened in Mr. Freshwater’s class surrounding the alleged misuse of the Tesla coil by Mr. Freshwater.

From what I can deduce from the 14 days of hearings this hearing was absolutely necessary to counteract what appears to be a deliberate railroading of Mr. Freshwater by the school and school board.

In this day when schools and education is such a great failure they education elite or hierarchy wants to drive excellent, people of faith and character out of the classroom as they successfully did with God and the Bible in the 1960s. Is there any wonder that violence, hatred, lack of discipline, increased drop out rates, poor rest results and lack of learning prevails in most schools today?

This case is a strong argument for funding of alternative to the hopeless government schools. Otherwise education will remain second-rate.

The following sources provide more of a first hand accounts of what went on in the hearing on Friday. Mr. Hoppe’s account is especially detailed and seems somewhat objective.

SOURCES

Students testify at teacher's hearing,
http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/09/02/28/students-testify-at-teachers-hearing

Freshwater Day 14: “He taught both sides” and questioning the text,
http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2009/02/freshwater-day-9.html#more

Freshwater Termination Hearing afternoon update
http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/09/02/27/freshwater-afternoon-update

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How does one students account lead you to say:
" strongly point to a serious exaggeration or embellishment or even some potentially falsified photographs on the part of Zach Dennis. Those photographs depicted something very much different than what young Heck saw. Something is very fishy."

Because one student felt something different, how does that indicate someone falsified photos? I believe two people have already, under oath, testified the photos are not "falsified".

The fact that Corbin Heck said he had it done to him just shows that a teacher misused a science tool.