MOUNT VERNON — After nearly two hours discussing Ohio School Board Association referee R. Lee Shepherd's report recommending the termination of John Freshwater's teaching contract, the Mount Vernon City Schools Board of Education voted 4-1 to terminate the former middle school science teacher.



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24 Responses to “MV board terminates Freshwater's contract”

  1. Anonymous

    bigjaf — Freshwater was NOT exonerated for burning that student. The referee ruled that according to the testimony presented the matter of the improper use of the Tesla Coil had been concluded, and thus he concluded “that case was closed.” That is, in this one and only instance the administration told Freshwater to stop doing something (using the Tesla Coil improperly) and he did stop. (Note: if this had been the only grounds for dismissal, John Freshwater would still be teaching in Mount Vernon.)nnThe referee’s ruling regarding the Tesla Coil is by no means an exoneration of Freshwater’s actions. The referee stated that “there was a plausible explanation for how and why the Tesla Coil had been used by John Freshwater,” but plausible does not mean acceptable, nor does it mean the incident was “not true” or “did not happen” as you claim. The allegation was true and John Freshwater did in fact burn that student, which is why the insurance company paid that money.nnThe insurance money is hardly “taxpayer money” as you put it. We the taxpayers will pay something more than we would have if the student had not been burned, but mainly this will come in the form of higher insurance premiums that the MVCS will have to pay. That money along with lawyer’s fees for the administrative hearing and the two court cases that were settled or dismissed will come from the MVCS operating budget, which means it will not be available for other, more worthwhile things (for example summer programs for students that did not take place last year).nnThe administrative hearing was a fiasco in terms of how long it took, which ran up the costs to the MVCS considerably. I followed the hearings pretty closely, and in my opinion Freshwater and his attorney did the most to drag out those proceedings (followed closely by the referee who lost control early on in the hearing). As for the two court cases, one was brought by the family of the burned student against the MVCS (and its administration) and Freshwater. The MVCS settled that matter early on and, once again, Freshwater and his attorney are to blame for dragging that out to ridiculous lengths. The other court case was brought by Freshwater against the BOE, and that was dismissed “with prejudice” after a number of rulings by the judge that went against Freshwater and his attorney. (FYI: according to the online ‘Lectric Law Library, “dismissal with prejudice” means the “case (was) dismissed for good reason and the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim.” In other words the judge told Freshwater: why have you been wasting my time and please don’t bother me anymore.)nnFreshwater is “0 for 3” in terms of hearings and court cases. If this were me and all this was based on “something that did not happen” as you put it, I would not settle until my name had been cleared. No, it’s pretty clear that John Freshwater was insubordinate, and, therefore, he deserved to be terminated. Contrary to your claim, it is also clear that John Freshwater burned a student in his class. Why you choose to ignore the facts is beyond me.

  2. Anonymous

    That is NOT accurate! The referee said he was not ruling on the Tesla Coil incident because he was considering it handeled by the administration. he did NOT exonerate him as you claim!

  3. Anonymous


  4. Anonymous


  5. Anonymous

    It really wasn’t a religion matter…it was an insubordination case….the school district and school board was stupid enough to allow Freshwater and his cronies to turn it into a religious matter.

  6. Anonymous

    Schools are not babysitters, they are institutions for education. If there is lawlessness in the students look no further than the parents and family. It is their responsibility and theirs alone for the actions and behavior of their children. Stop sugar coating it and deflecting blame from where it ALL should be…..PARENTS.nnMore humans have historically and continue to be killed, persecuted and harmed because of religion. Anyone who can’t see that is in complete and total denial.

  7. Anonymous

    he_said_what: Freshwater was exonerated by the referee of the allegations that he burned a cross on a student’s arm. So the referee did not rule totally in favor of the school board as you claim. But the school board’s insurance company paid a half million dollars to the boy’s family. So the family got money for something the referee ruled as not true. Great way to use our taxpayer money. By the way, I do work and as the owner of a small business I would make darn sure of the facts before spending that kind of money on something that did not happen.

  8. Miriam StJean

    Mr. Thompson’s record might be clean – but his actions speak louder than his words – his bias is obvious – even when given the proof that Mr. Freshwater violated the Establishment Clause, even given the proof that Mr. Freshwater is a proven liar who has been sanctioned by the Federal Court by imposing a fine of $28k against him for his lies, even given proof that Freshwater is defiant and insubordinate, even given proof that Mr. Freshwater interjected his fundamentalist beliefs into his science classroom, Mr. Thompson voted against Mr. Freshwater’s termination.nnMr. Thompson needs to have have his status as a Board Member terminated at the next possible moment – he obviously doesn’t have the best interests of Mount Vernon in mind, but his own ideological beliefs.nnThat’s inexcusable.

  9. Anonymous

    abckls — Here is your logic in a nut shell:nn exposing someone to religion = lawfulnessnn restricting someone’s religious experiences = lawlessnessnnHow you reached these conclusions is a mystery. What about the clergy members (not just Catholic priests, by the way) being exposed as pedophiles? What about the many fine, upstanding citizens who identify themselves as agnostics or atheists?nnJust because someone is religious, that does not make them law-abiding. Heck, being “religious” does not even mean they are capable of doing the correct thing such as recusing themselves from a matter when they obviously should do so. (By the way, thanks to JstListening, Adam Gilson, and M_Baker for supporting my earlier comment; I knew I did not need to respond to wgwll personally.)nnLet’s not even raise the thorny question of who would get to decide which religious views to present in the classroom. I just bring this up to give you something else to contemplate. That is, how would you like it if your child’s teacher was a Muslim, or a Roman Catholic, or a Buddhist, or a ______________ (fill in the blank), and he or she started bringing their personal faith into the lessons? (Note: I am assuming you would take exception to one of those faiths/denominations, but I doubt if I am wrong in making such an assumption. If I am, well then good for you. However, my point is still valid.)nnFinally, science is not religion. Please educate yourself on this point. The most important difference is this: science follows a methodology that determines: 1) what is capable of being studied; 2) how one carries out such studies; 3) how results of studies are reported; and 4) how other scientists can then try to repeat such studies to either confirm or deny the results.nnOn the other hand there is religion, which is ultimately a matter of faith in the existence of a supernatural being whose very existence is (by definition) incapable of being addressed by scientific study.

  10. Anonymous

    It’s not good to keep religion out of schools, that’s why we have more lawlessness now than ever among students… and it hasn’t been taken out of schools… it’s been renamed science and other beliefs.

  11. Anonymous

    I would be happy to meet with the man, but his actions were definitly not of the integrity we should expect from someone on the school board. His action are the same as a judge helping to raise money for the defense in a case he will reside. His vote not to fire Freshwater is further evidence he is not fit to be a board member. The almost 1 million dollars spent on his appeal is money that should have been spent on the education of our children who the school board are responsible for. In short, you may believe Thompson is what you stated he is, but his actions did not demonstrate intelligence, character, or integrity.

  12. Adam Gilson

    I’m sure he’s a fine, upstanding man. However, his actions in this particular case are causing a lot of questions. Reports are that he raised money for Freshwater’s defense. Yet, at the meeting, he questioned whether another board member had a conflict of interest in the case which not recusing himself, despite his past actions. I don’t know the man, and I am not making a personal statement about him. But this decision gives me pause and is worth further exploration.

  13. Anonymous

    I think regardless of relgious beliefs, if a child is injured during a school function (ie, science experiment) and no accident report is filed, that alone is grounds for termination.

  14. Anonymous

    You cannot be serious, blaming this $900,000 debacle on the school board! Do you work? Do you have children? If an employee or someone you supervise at work is insubordinate, do you just look the other way? If not, and you tell them to correct their behavior, do you allow them to continue breaking the rules you have established? If you do have children, who determines the punishments in your household when they break the rules or act out? I hope it is not your children, but that would be the logical extension of your reasoning here: oh, you’ve broken the rules of my house, well, I cannot punish you so go ahead and keep on doing whatever you want.nnThere is one man I blame for the nearly $1 million fiasco, and his name is John Freshwater. He had a lot of support and encouragement along the way from his lawyer, his pastor, and some misguided advisors, too. In fact, for good measure throw in the folks who rallied in support of Freshwater in the early BOE meetings and on the public square; and you might as well include those who allowed their kids to bring their bibles to school (some of whom chastised those students who did not — very Christian of you!). This was a crystal clear case of a teacher breaking the establishment clause, and, the folks I have listed here all helped bring this train wreck about with their ignorance and/or willful disregard of the constitution, the rulings of numerous courts in this country, and of the MVCS BOE rules of employee conduct.nnNow that the referee has ruled in favor of the Board, you’d like to add his decision to the list of findings you want to ignore. Wake up! Stop ignoring the fact that it is GOOD to keep religion out of our schools.nn”Religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.” — James Madison

  15. Anonymous

    I don’t have the privilege to KNOW Mr. Thompson like you do just like I don’t KNOW many of my elected officials on a personal level. I voted for Mr. Thompson. I was disappointed in Mr. Thompson’s vote and, after listening to an interview with him, believe that he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth. In the interview he talked about keeping a distinction between friends and responsibility in his position at Ariel. His vote reflected that he neither kept that distinction and that he definitely wasn’t being responsible.

  16. Mike Hunt

    Hurray! Hopefully other public school teachers and school boards will think twice before they allow teachers to include Middle Eastern myths in their science classes.

  17. Anonymous

    PatAnns-nI disagree. When he was running for election he stated that he was NOT doing it to vindicate his friend, Mr Freshwater. He said he was NOT doing it to try to get Mr Freshwaters job back. He said actions speak louder than he words. He is correct there. he voted to keep Mr Freshwater teaching in the school, after it cost $900,000 dollars for the board to get a ruling that agreed with them. Did he have the best interest of the school at heart or his friend? I know which I think it was. To me that is NOT a good character trait.

  18. Anonymous

    The fact that the school board was comfortable with spending over $900,000 of OUR tax payer dollars on this case reflects a total lack of wisdom or financial integrity.

  19. Anonymous

    I too find it very hard to believe that Steve Thompson doesn’t see were his help in raising funds for Freshwater wasn’t imoper at the time he did so. For a member of the board to be doing so in a matter that was board at the time speaks volumes of his ability to make decisions in the best interest of the school district. I don’t know when he comes up for re-election, but if it is not within a year a petition drive needs to be started to expell him from the board.

  20. Anonymous

    In reading the three comments that have been posted, I question if any of you actually KNOW Steve Thompson. nPutting the controversial issue of the John Freshwater case aside, it is very obvious that you have never met Steve Thompson.nMr. Thompson is a man of great intelligence, integrity and character of highest degree.nIt would be very interesting to put the three of you in a room with Mr. Thompson for a discussion and see if any of you can even come close to having the character that Steve Thompson has.nThere are very few MEN in America today who can put there past and present “personal records” on the table and come out as clean as Steve Thompson.nAs far as John Freshwater—he was attacked for having a Bible on his desk. If it had been a magazine with sexual content, the same people would have “shared it and enjoyed it”.

  21. Anonymous

    Yeah, Adam, Steve Thompson should look up the definition of the word hypocrite (and irony, too, while he has the dictionary out). All of Freshwater’s young supporters who don’t know why someone might possibly recuse themselves from such deliberations and decision making processes should investigate the matter. They will see that Mr. Thompson missed out on a chance to show some character and to educate folks on how one should act. He looked like a hypocritical child himself as he made his comments before the vote (

  22. Adam Gilson

    Let me get this straight: the board member who had raised money for Freshwater was calling out another board member for not recusing herself?

  23. Caline Barbezat Ruggles

    The fact that John Freshwater was comfortable with letting the school district spend over $900,000.00 of OUR tax payer dollars on this case reflects his lack of concern for anyone but himself.