MOUNT VERNON — The public sessions in the contract termination hearings for suspended Mount Vernon Middle School teacher John Freshwater are over; however, written briefs continue to be filed with hearing referee R. Lee Shepherd. The News has learned that an amicus brief has been filed by Douglas Mansfield as a “friend of the Court.”
Attorney for the Dennis family who brought allegations of misconduct on Freshwater’s part to the school district’s attention, Mansfield represents the family in two current federal court proceedings also involving Freshwater.
Rules of the Supreme Court of the U.S. define an amicus curiae brief as something which provides information to the court, in this case the referee. The additional information should be relevant to the case under consideration, and need not have been entered into direct evidence at the time of the hearing.
Mansfield’s brief addresses Freshwater’s claim that the Dennises are not credible witnesses. The brief states that claim is baseless, and adds, “the witnesses that testified in these proceedings confirmed that John Freshwater committed the wrongs the board alleged and did so over a lengthy period.”
The amicus brief also refers to the testimony given by 10 students during the termination hearing, alleging that “all were students that had clearly been fed a story by Kelly Hamilton [Freshwater’s lawyer] in advance that they regurgitated on the stand.” The brief asserts the 10 students actually contradicted much of Freshwater’s testimony.
Also regarding credibility, the brief informs Shepherd that a federal court has determined that Freshwater is not credible.
“John Freshwater may have been a teacher that connected with the kids in his classroom,” the brief concludes, “and may have taught well in some respects, but the testimony throughout these lengthy hearings confirmed that he repeatedly crossed the line over the years. And now he is trying to lay blame on those that finally confronted him rather than accepting responsibility for what he unquestioningly did. The Dennises, HR on Call [the firm which investigated the allegations], Steve Short [superintendent of Mount Vernon City Schools] and the other school administrators did not ‘fabricate’ anything. ... John Freshwater, on the other hand, is untruthful. He has repeatedly changed his story on any number of events or circumstances throughout all of these related proceedings. A federal court quickly saw through his lies and specifically ruled that he was not credible. This Referee should do the same and find that John Freshwater should be terminated from his teaching position.”