Saturday, August 01, 2009

John Freshwater Hearing Stalled

Righting First Amendment Wrongs

It has now been well over a year since the controversy over a teacher’s first amendment right to have his personal Bible on his classroom desk began. The middle school teacher was subsequently accused of marking the arm of one of his students in his science class. Later, fearing legal action, he was apparently set-up by the school and administration, which built a case to get rid of him.

I had not seen much about the case lately. I did find a brief article in the Columbus Dispatch a week ago that gave a brief update. The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch has been biased in its coverage of the story from the start. A week ago yesterday, this liberal
yellow, or is it ‘red,’ journal, published a revealing paragraph in an article, summarizing the ‘facts’ of the case as follows:

"Following a school-district investigation last year, (John) Freshwater was accused of preaching in class, burning crosses on students' arms with a laboratory device and disobeying orders to remove a Bible and other religious items from his classroom."

That summary was sensationalized, biased and very subjective.

From my personal observation, having followed this story, having attended a few of the hearing sessions and having read accounts in newspapers and blogs, I think the summary should more accurately read something like this:

The school district hired a mom and pop investigative firm which limited their investigation to achieve a predetermined outcome, that which strengthened and supported the school board’s position. The investigator’s report was actually screened by the board’s attorney before it was finalized.

Years ago, Freshwater advocated that alternatives to the Theory of Evolution be included in the science curriculum. This upset some of his fellow teachers and administrators. For a brief period of time the State of Ohio did allow it to be included in the teaching curriculum. Freshwater, during a time when it was appropriate and ‘lawful’ to present alternatives to evolution within the curriculum, did so. When it became ‘unlawful’ or not part of accepted curriculum, he stopped teaching the alternatives. Now, he may have responded to student’s inquiries about faith-based matters and he may have answered those inquiries. But this is still America and no one has to check in his beliefs at the school door entrance.

One apparently disgruntled student, who had voluntarily agreed to be involved in the experiment, had been apparently touched and may have been ‘marked’ with a Tesla Coil. That device was being used by other teachers and by Mr. Freshwater for years without incident. His parents complained on their son's behalf complained to the school. Unsatisfied with the school's response, they later sued the school board.

The school principal did demand that Mr. Freshwater remove his personal Bible from his desk as well as ‘religious’ posters, etc. in his classroom. Freshwater complied, with the exception of his personal Bible, which had been at his side for 20 years. That was why he was eventually terminated and that is why he is challenging his termination, which he has a right to do under his teachers’ union contract.

The first amendment guarantee, a person's to freely express his faith, is what is at the core of this case. A man was unfairly fired because of his faith.

The Columbus Dispatch reporter postulated in his article that the hearings would possibly resume in mid-September.

You can review some of my previous articles regarding this case by clicking here.

1 comment:

  1. Gregjaye,

    There was an interesting development this week regarding the John Freshwater employment hearing. Freshwater addressed the school board at its monthly meeting and gave the board an update on recent events related to the hearing.

    "I thought the hearing was about to end sometime last month but the proceeding changed again because somebody sent an anonymous letter containing some photographs of some items from my classroom," Freshwater said. "Last week another anonymous delivery was made that contained approximately 300 photographs of items that were in my room."

    I've uploaded a video of Freshwater's comments to YouTube.

    An article published by the Mount Vernon News provides some additional information regarding the missing evidence. (See the article "Anonymous source leads to 'black bag' find," by Samantha Scoles. )