John Freshwater Update (30 Apr ‘10)

WOULD ya believe it? The Freshwater hearing isn’t over yet. Our last post on this creationist teaching mess was at the end of last year: Freshwater Hearing Halts in Chaos.

This is an administrative hearing to determine whether John Freshwater will be fired as an 8th-grade science teacher in Ohio. He’s accused of burning a cross on a student with a Tesla coil, teaching religion in his science class, and failing to follow the school district’s orders. Freshwater says the district wants to fire him only because he refused to remove a Bible from his desk.

We haven’t been writing much about this case because the best coverage has been provided by Richard B. Hoppe at Panda’s Thumb. His last article, from a few days ago, is Two Freshwater attorneys ask to withdraw.

But we’ve found something new and Richard hasn’t posted about it yet so we’ll jump in. The Columbus Dispatch of Columbus, Ohio has this story: Science teacher’s hearing resumes. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Participants hope to wrap up a hearing on whether John Freshwater should keep his teaching job by sometime in June, but sessions could resume next fall, they said yesterday.

There’s no end to it. Let’s read on:

The administrative hearing started almost two years ago after Mount Vernon school board members voted that they intended to fire the eighth-grade science teacher for teaching creationism and intelligent design, failing to remove religious materials from his classroom after being told to do so, and burning crosses on students’ arms.

The hearing appeared to end three months ago, but Freshwater’s attorney, R. Kelly Hamilton, never closed his case.

This is like one of those mummy movies, the kind that endlessly spawn sequel after sequel. Just when you think they’ve finally burned the thing, it rises from the ashes and starts stalking again. We continue:

The hearing resumed yesterday and is to continue today. At least three additional dates are scheduled for early June, and both sides have agreed not to hold any sessions during the summer school break, because witnesses will be difficult to schedule.

Once the hearing is concluded, the referee will make a recommendation to the board, which can take final action. Freshwater has been suspended without pay.

At least he’s not getting paid while this thing is dragging on. Here’s more:

Hamilton has subpoenaed 16 additional witnesses since Jan. 15, when Freshwater and the school board received an anonymous letter telling them about materials allegedly taken from his classroom that might exonerate him. The items include textbooks with handwritten notes that Freshwater testified would illustrate his science-teaching techniques at Mount Vernon Middle School.

Oooooh! An anonymous letter. Hidden evidence! It’s a Darwinist plot! Or maybe the Illuminati. Moving along:

David Millstone, attorney for the school district, said the items have always been available. “Had they asked for it, I could care less,” he said. “There’s nothing there.”

That’s about it. They’re still going at it. We’ll leave the details to Richard B. Hoppe. He sits in on these hearings and then posts about them. We don’t know how he can stand it, but he does a great job.

If any significant news comes out, we’ll post about it. Or maybe we won’t. After two years, this one has become rather wearisome.

Update: John Freshwater Case Is Winding Down.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “John Freshwater Update (30 Apr ‘10)

  1. Like the mummy films this case is moving very s-l-o-w-l-y.

    As for “exoneration,” no letter, picture or items can change the fact that Freshwater burned a minor in his classroom, however slightly. Freshwater has admitted this under oath, in interviews and in depositions.

    He’s done everything but apologize to the student and his family, and his 15 minutes expired two years ago!

  2. Gabriel Hanna

    Like the mummy films this case is moving very s-l-o-w-l-y.

    Seems to be about average for the firing of a teacher, no matter how egregious the situation.

    I’m sure everyone’s heard of NYC’s “rubber rooms” by now.

    In case you’re thinking of firing a teacher, here’s a handy guide:

    http://reason.com/archives/2006/10/01/how-to-fire-an-incompetent-tea

    Once, Klein reports, the school system discovered that a teacher was sending sexual e-mails to a 16-year-old student. “This was the most unbelievable case to me,” he says, “because the e-mail was there, he admitted to it. It was so thoroughly offensive.” Even with the teacher’s confession, it took six years of expensive litigation before the school could fire him. He didn’t teach during those six years, but he still got paid—more than $350,000 total.

  3. Gabriel Hanna says:

    … it took six years of expensive litigation before the school could fire him. He didn’t teach during those six years, but he still got paid — more than $350,000 total.

    That’s insane, but hey — it’s social justice.

  4. Gabriel Hanna

    $50k / year isn’t a LOT of money, if you work–it’s almost exactly the median income for the US in 2008 and it’s not a lot for NYC.

    But it is a hell of a lot of money for not working.

  5. Doc Bill said: “As for ‘exoneration,’ no letter, picture or items can change the fact that Freshwater burned a minor in his classroom, however slightly. Freshwater has admitted this under oath, in interviews and in depositions.”

    Freshwater has, in fact, very adamantly stated that he never harmed a student. Take for example the statement he made to the Mount Vernon Board of Education on August 4, 2008, “I have never, never, branded or burned a person.” (Source, video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgtfePmIkPQ )

  6. As I’ve mentioned before, this is the town where I grew up, a long time ago, and I continue to be amazed by all this.

    I have some idea of retiring there (every sentimental story you’ve ever read glowing with nostalgia about the middle-American small town, this is the place they meant), so in some way I may end up helping pay for all this in years to come…

  7. mountvernon1805 “Freshwater has, in fact, very adamantly stated that he never harmed a student. ” Give it a rest Sam, he also said he was burning X’s on arms, not CROSSES. Go look up accountability in the dictionary sometime. Your biased comments everywhere are wearing thin.

  8. Some prior commitments delayed my writeup for the Thumb, but I should get to it over the weekend.

    And for mountvernon1805’s benefit, I note that Freshwater has offered three different answers (under oath) to questions about the marking of students: ‘I did, but it was an X’, ‘I didn’t do it’, and ‘I take the 5th’. See here for more details.

  9. RBH says:

    Some prior commitments delayed my writeup for the Thumb, but I should get to it over the weekend.

    I figured that. No need to rush. With this case, there’s plenty of time.

  10. techreseller

    Sorry to be a pedant, but Millstone is an attorney representing a school. He should use correct English. The phrase is “I could not care less”. If you could care less, that indicates some level of caring above zero. It could be 100% all the way down to 1%. I could not care less means that there is no level of caring at all. Accuracy is important.

  11. techreseller says:

    The phrase is “I could not care less”.

    Well, it was a near miss.

  12. 7/29/10 Update:
    “Boy’s family, teacher settle arm-burning suit”
    “A lawsuit by Freshwater against the district is set for trial on June 20, 2011, Miller said.”

    ( http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/07/29/boys-family-teacher-settle-arm-burning-suit.html?sid=101 )

  13. I spent Thursday, July 29, at a hearing in federal court on Hamilton’s and Freshwater’s motion to reconsider the sanctions ordered by the judge some weeks ago. At that hearing I spoke with several of the principals and attorneys, and they all deny that a settlement has been reached. The sole source for the Dispatch story is a comment by the court deputy who said a settlement agreement had been made. The reporter, Dean Narciso, stands by his story but it gets no support from the principals and attorneys associated with the case that I talked with this afternoon. Settlement talks are in progress, obviously, but there is no settlement yet as far as I can tell from talking with the people concerned just hours ago.

  14. Thanks, Richard. And thanks for your tireless efforts in reporting on this mess. You’re the Lauri Lebo of Ohio.

  15. Naw. Lauri’s much better looking than I am! :)

  16. RBH says: “Lauri’s much better looking than I am!”

    How gracious of you. What’s your next act of humility? Maybe you’ll concede that Bill Gates has more money than you do.