John Freshwater Trial Resumes Today

THIS IS in the nature of a promo, because there’s no news yet. After a two-month recess, the Freshwater hearing is scheduled to resume today.

In the Columbus Dispatch we read Hearing for fired science teacher resumes, subtitled: “With up to 60 still to testify, legal costs already top $200,000.” Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

A hearing to examine the Mount Vernon school board’s decision to fire a middle-school science teacher has been drawn out and costly. John Freshwater’s employment hearing, which began in October, resumes Tuesday after a two-month break because of attorney scheduling conflicts.

Okay, so it’s been a dragged-out affair. Let’s read on:

The popular but embattled teacher is accused of teaching religion in a public school and burning crosses on students with an electrical instrument that comes with a manufacturer’s warning that it should never touch human skin.

Well, he’s certainly got style. Here’s some more:

The district already has paid $200,000 to Squire, Sanders & Dempsey for labor, employment and school-law attorney David Millstone. A court reporter and security guards have accrued more than $7,000 in expenses. Fees for the referee, attorney R. Lee Shepherd, have not been determined. The money — enough to pay four entry-level teachers — is being wasted to attack a respected teacher who has received excellent evaluations in his 21 years in the district, Freshwater’s supporters say.

It’s great that there are always two sides to these things. We continue:

During the hearing, [Freshwater’s attorney, R. Kelly] Hamilton has tried to raise doubts about whether Bibles, Bible verses and Christian teachings are inherently religious. “Could they simply be statements of virtue?” he asked Short. After a long pause, Short replied, “It depends upon the reader.”

It’s a pleasure to see a brilliant lawyer at work. Moving along:

Richard B. Hoppe, a visiting biology professor at Kenyon College and a supporter of church and state separation, calls Hamilton’s tactics “desperation.” “The case he’s trying to make is that the passive display of religious items is not a violation of the establishment clause (of the First Amendment),” Hoppe said. “He’s trying to cast those displays as being religiously neutral.”

Biology professors — they’re all evil! One more excerpt:

Freshwater has not been paid since April. He worked briefly as a substitute teacher, and, recently, selling apples, pears and Christmas trees grown on his property.

We expect to post another report after we see news reports of today’s session. Stay tuned to this blog!

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2 responses to “John Freshwater Trial Resumes Today

  1. Sorry to be OT, but look what’s coming ’round the bend in Oklahoma. I do believe the wording will be familiar….

  2. Thanks, James. We’ve been in the slow season for such news, and I thought it would be a while before things picked up. I hadn’t considered the possibility of pre-filed bills. I’ll be following that one.