By , Mount Vernon News
October 5, 2011, 10:51 am

MOUNT VERNON — In a decision released this morning, Knox County Common Pleas Court Judge Otho Eyster upheld the Mount Vernon School Board’s decision to fire former middle school science teacher John Freshwater.

Since the board’s decision was based on the recommendation of contract termination hearing officer R. Lee Shepherd, Eyster’s job in considering Freshwater’s appeal was to determine whether or not Shepherd’s decision was valid, illegal, unconstitutional or unlawful.

To that end, Eyster reviewed 6,344 pages of transcripts and approximately 350 exhibits from the hearing, as well as transcripts from board of education meetings and board resolutions. He then determined that Shepherd’s decision was valid.

In a journal entry, Eyster wrote, “there is clear and convincing evidence to support the Board of Education’s termination of Freshwater’s contract(s) for good and just cause.”

Eyster also denied Freshwater’s request that the court conduct additional hearings and ordered Freshwater to pay the costs of the appeal proceedings.

Freshwater did not return requests from the News for comment as of press time.

The history of the case:

In April 2008, the school board launched an investigation into allegations of misconduct on Freshwater’s part. The investigation by an outside agency was completed in June, and, responding to information as a result of the investigation, the school board passed a resolution of intent to terminate Freshwater’s teaching contract.

As allowed by law, Freshwater requested a hearing to contest the board’s decision. That hearing began in October 2008 and continued sporadically until it was officially concluded in January 2011. The hearing referee R. Lee Shepherd at that time recommended that Freshwater’s contract be terminated.

The Mount Vernon City Schools Board of Education formally terminated Freshwater’s teaching contract in January 2011, and Freshwater filed an appeal with the Knox County Common Pleas Court.

In March, the school board filed a petition to remove the case to federal court and that was approved. The appeal was moved back to Knox County in April and became part of Judge Eyster’s docket.

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12 Responses to “Eyster upholds decision to fire teacher”

  1. WatchMom

    Blasphemy is an
    act of cursing or reviling God.

    “Sledding Hill” by
    Chris Crutcher would be one of many examples of blasphemy. It’s about a church
    that challenges a book in school library. Pg. 191 “So I figure whoever wrote
    Leviticus was just a bigoted guy, just like the guy was that decided the mark
    of Cain was being black.”

    God was just called a
    bigot—blasphemy.

    Look at pg. 195 “What
    would Jesus do? […] He’d give this book to people and read it to people,
    because Jesus was a guy who liked to make people feel better and that book
    makes some people feel better. So there.”

    Really???? My recollection
    of Jesus is when he spoke the “truth” they ran him out of town and even tried
    to stone him to death. Then they nailed him to the cross for all the good
    things he was saying to them.

    Pg 196 “In fact I
    might be Jesus. What about that? I might be Jesus.

    This book is full of
    blasphemous entries and there is lots more like it. Oh… and students are
    rewarded 6 points for reading this corruption. Is there any wonder why so many
    children leave their faith after they graduate?

  2. Miriam StJean

    mentioning homosexuality, death, abortion, suicide and murder in reading material is “blasphemous?”

    now THAT cracked me up, watchmom

  3. Miriam StJean

    Freshwater tried to bully our school by straining its budget .. he failed.  Hopefully his loss will help ensure this and any future administration develop a backbone, learn to understand the law, and nip Frehswater-type actions in the bud, instead of looking the other way.  We all know now where that got us, don’t we.

    Never again.

  4. WatchMom

    Carlos…answering student questions is what
    got him fired.

    Burning crosses were the initial charge
    brought against him, but the target was always the Bible on his desk, and his
    moral convictions. Students had tremendous respect for him and his convictions,
    and sharing those convictions got him fired.

    Homosexuals are knocking down the closet
    doors as they exited, but now, walking arm in arm with ACLU, they are pushing
    Christians into those closets and trying to erect metal bars over those doors.

    The judgment of this board must be called
    into account when censoring the Bible from their classrooms while at the same
    time purchasing sexually inappropriate books (propaganda) with your tax dollars–
    for their libraries.

     “Friday
    Night Lights” by H.G. Bissinger f-word 27 times, nig-er 32 times, death/murder
    69 times, hell is mentioned 28 times. Students earns 19 points for reading it

     “Please
    Don’t Kill the Freshman” by Zoe Trope It’s in the Middle school and the school
    district is awarding 10 points for reading it. The f-word is found 105 times,
    homosexuality is listed 99 times –various versions. Word sex is mentioned 28
    times, death and murder 64 times. There’s more inappropriate words contained in
    this one book, but they can’t be printed here. I’m not talking about just two
    books—there are hundreds of inappropriate titles available, more at the high
    school.

    Just a thought…you might want to consider electing
    new members to your school board. This was brought to their attention, with little concern expressed.

  5. WatchMom

    Carlos…

    Carlos…answering student questions is what
    got him fired.

    Burning crosses were the initial charge
    brought against him, but the target was always the Bible on his desk, and his
    moral convictions. Students had tremendous respect for him and his convictions,
    and sharing those convictions got him fired.

    Homosexuals are knocking down the closet
    doors as they exited, but now, walking arm in arm with ACLU, they are pushing
    Christians into those closets and trying to erect metal bars over those doors.

    The judgment of this board must be called
    into account when censoring the Bible from their classrooms while at the same
    time purchasing sexually inappropriate books (propaganda) with your tax dollars–
    for their libraries.

     “Friday
    Night Lights” by H.G. Bissinger f-word 27 times, nig-er 32 times, death/murder
    69 times, hell is mentioned 28 times. Students earns 19 points for reading it

     “Please
    Don’t Kill the Freshman” by Zoe Trope It’s in the Middle school and the school
    district is awarding 10 points for reading it. The f-word is found 105 times,
    homosexuality is listed 99 times –various versions. Word sex is mentioned 28
    times, death and murder 64 times. There’s more inappropriate words contained in
    this one book, but they can’t be printed here. I’m not talking about just two
    books—there are hundreds of inappropriate titles available, more at the high
    school.

    Just a thought…you might want to consider electing
    new members to your school board. This was brought to their attention.

  6. WatchMom

    It appears that
    non-directive teaching is still alive and well in our schools—and obviously the
    crux of the firing. He gave his opinion on subject matter, when students
    initiated the subject. The non-directive method forbids Christian teachers to
    reference their right and wrong manual — God’s Holy Word. At the same time the
    students are reading blasphemous material from their library—questions answered
    by a Christian teacher will appear to be preaching, when in fact it’s simply
    the clashing of two world views.
    Titles like: “The Sledding Hill” by Chris Crutcher mentions homosexuality 41
    times, death and murder 93 times. “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes” another
    Crutcher title. Murder/death 88 times, abortion 34 times, suicide 10 times,
    God/Jesus (negatively) 60 times. Excerpt page 30 “He’s so d-mn righteous; such
    a dumb, plastic God Squadder. Sometimes I wish I could have religion their way.
    You know, no responsibilities in life but to cut down people who don’t think
    the way you do,” […] “God, I love justice.”
    Just those two titles demonstrate how the subject matter can be instigated.
    It is very troubling because this case sets a very serious precedent. CHRISTIAN
    teachers are no longer free to advise or give an opinion on subject matter like
    sex, drugs, homosexuality, death etc. The books in Mount Vernon school district
    makes ours look tame, and there’s nothing tame about the ones in our schools—MV
    just have a lot more. Think about it…this trash is being deposited in student’s
    minds, which is purchased by the school; and the adults around them (teachers)
    are in jeopardy of losing their job if they respond honestly to questions from
    their students. Should give us all pause.

  7. WatchMom

    Here’s Coshocton Tribune version…appears to be a little more
    forthright with information.

    http://www.coshoctontribune.com/comments/article/20111007/NEWS01/110070307/Judge-upholds-firing-Ohio-teacher-Bible-case

    Here’s the comment I posted there…

    Judges have been wrong
    before. It’s very clear in this case that this is a wrong decision. Teachers
    aren’t awarded “Teacher of the Year” for doing nothing. John Freshwater not
    only loves the Lord, but he loves teaching, and I might add that his priorities
    were straight.
    The article starts out: A judge has upheld the firing of a central Ohio public
    school science teacher who was accused of preaching religious beliefs in class
    and of keeping a Bible on his desk.
    To my recollection, several students testified that he did NOT preach in his
    classroom; unless of course, a teacher whose morals and values reflect Biblical
    principles is considered preaching.
    Here’s the golden nugget in this report, let’s not skip over it as so many
    stories have done. The article stated… “Freshwater also was accused of using a
    science tool to burn students’ arms with the image of a cross, but that
    allegation was resolved and not a factor in his firing.”
    That is the first time I’ve seen that fact in print. So the tesla coil, burning
    a cross on a student’s arm; which was the initial charge brought against him,
    is merely an after-thought…after they seared that image into the mind of every
    one that followed this story?

  8. Carlos Handy

    This story is very vague what being hidden one news soure say he was burn kid arms with the sign of the cross but that clam was resolved what the crap does that suppose to mean really did he do it or not. There know clear evidence tell why there fire him other then he keep a bible on his desk I keep a bible on my desk but I not being anyone over the head to believe it there chose if they ask me a question I will answer.

  9. Guest

    ha ha ha!! Good job judge!  He finally got it!  Justice was served. Ole Freshwater needs to get a job & start paying up his fines now. Hes only about a killion dollars in debt due to all his arguing, & lawyers which didnt do any good.

    I’m so tired of even hearing his name. Whewww!
    Judge Eyster……………. HES THE MAN!!!   yay!!!!   :)

  10. Mike Hunt

    The Christian martyr circuit will be tough for him. He should stick to the radio
    where people can’t see his wild eyes and flailing arms and can only
    hear his rising voice. Things still aren’t over for another 30 days and
    I wouldn’t bet against him appealing it again. He seems just that
    crazy but I think he knows at a real court his shenanigans won’t be
    tolerated.