COLUMBUS — U.S. District Court Judge Gregory Frost ruled Thursday that David Millstone should be removed as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in June by suspended middle school science teacher John Freshwater against the Mount Vernon schools.
Millstone, attorney for the Mount Vernon school district, was named in Freshwater’s civil suit against the school district and various individuals. The suit alleges the “defendants discriminated, harassed and are attempting to terminate the employment” of Freshwater because he kept his personal Bible on his desk.
Millstone filed a motion asking the court to dismiss Freshwater’s claims that [Millstone] violated Freshwater’s civil rights while a legal representative of the school board. He also asked the court to dismiss Freshwater’s allegations that Millstone, as an individual, defamed and slandered the teacher.
Frost agreed with Millstone’s petition that he cannot be sued simply because he was hired to represent the school board.
Frost also dismissed the slander portion of Freshwater’s allegation.
“There has to be malice, or bad intent,” Millstone told the News on Friday. “They didn’t and can’t show malice.”
The civil suit filed by Freshwater is still in the preliminary stages; both sides are waiting for other rulings from the judge.
Millstone said he was disappointed the school board couldn’t be extracted from the case as easily as Millstone was.
The Mount Vernon Board of Education announced its intent to fire Freshwater in 2008, citing an internal investigation that, among other allegations of professional misconduct, found Freshwater had preached his personal religious beliefs in class. He also was accused of using a scientific device to mark a student’s arm with a cross.
Freshwater continues to appeal his dismissal.