MOUNT VERNON — On Thursday, John Freshwater continued to answer questions during his contract termination hearing. His focus was on answers he would have given to HR on Call investigators if he had had a second interview with them, as he expected, and for which he had prepared a written statement. He referenced those written answers throughout the day.
His attorney, Kelly Hamilton, entered into evidence notes allegedly made by Freshwater immediately after certain conversations he had with middle school principal Bill White. Freshwater said he began making notes after Feb. 28, 2008, because “there was some confusion over permission slips” which are required for students to attend Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings during school hours. He said there were seven of those meetings in April 2008.
He also testified that after the permission slip rule was implemented, he would ask students without signed permission slips to leave the FCA meetings. He further stated he had heard of teachers phoning parents to get permission for their students to go on a field trip and felt he was being singled out by needing written permission slips for FCA.
Regarding the allegation that Freshwater led or participated in a “healing session” by raising his arms over his head, Hamilton had Freshwater review and comment on medical records indicating he was under medical care for his left shoulder at the time and therefore unable to raise his arm over his head without discomfort.
Following a review of previous testimony by Freshwater, Hamilton asked, “Did you ever try to indoctrinate any student?”
“No,” replied Freshwater.
“Did you ever try to proselytize any eighth-grade student at Mount Vernon Middle School?”
“Did you ever interject your personal beliefs?”
Freshwater said throughout April there continued to be confusion over whether his personal Bible was allowed to remain on his desk. Therefore, when he was told on April 16 to remove it, he said he called Dave Daubenmire for advice.
Freshwater said he called Daubenmire because he taught a Mount Vernon Nazarene University class on religion in the classroom Freshwater attended.
He said he felt his “personal rights were taken away” when he was directed to remove his personal Bible — his inspiration — from his desk. He added, “If HR [on Call] would have done what they were supposed to have done, we wouldn’t be here today. I’ll go further and say that if Mr. Millstone [the school board’s attorney] had done his job ... that’s grounds for a lawsuit.”
Additional testimony dealt with the transcript of an audio tape Freshwater made of his interview with HR on Call investigators, and Freshwater went into detail about the clarifications he would have made given the chance.
Regarding Easter and Good Friday, Freshwater said the date of Easter 2008, was a rare event — in the lunar cycle that year Easter was on the earliest day it could come.
“Did you proselytize about Easter or Good Friday?”
“Is it your understanding that it is permissible to answer students’ questions about Easter and Good Friday?”
“Did you ever say it should be called the greatest Friday ever?”
The day’s session ended with a discussion of how FCA began in the middle school and the duties of an FCA monitor.
“Did you initiate contact with FCA speakers?”
“Did you ever pray aloud at FCA meetings?”
“But you pray all the time?”
“Silent prayer like Nehemiah [Nehemiah 2:4]”
“Do you know anything about exorcism?”
Freshwater was expected to continue his testimony when the hearing resumed at 9 a.m. today.