MOUNT VERNON — On Thursday, the attorney for John and Nancy Freshwater and the lawyers for the Mount Vernon school board, et al., filed a joint document in the U.S. District Court to stipulate, with prejudice, the dismissal of Freshwater’s lawsuit against the board, et al. The term with prejudice means Freshwater cannot bring the case again.
In early summer 2008, the school board passed a resolution to consider terminating Freshwater’s contract as a science teacher at Mount Vernon Middle School. The board alleged Freshwater used an electrical device to cause harm to a student, improperly pushed his personal religious beliefs in class, did not teach the approved curriculum in some instances and overstepped his bounds as a monitor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Freshwater exercised his right to demand a hearing to contest the termination of his teaching contract, and hearing sessions were held sporadically over the past two years. Closing arguments have been submitted in writing to the hearing referee, who has not yet rendered his decision.
In June 2009, Freshwater filed a civil suit in federal district court, claiming the school board and various individuals discriminated against him because of his religious beliefs, harassed him because of those beliefs and violated his civil rights.
Sarah Moore, the attorney representing the school board in the civil suit, anticipates Judge Gregory Frost will approve the joint motion to dismiss later today or on Monday.
Regarding the dismissal, Moore said, “We are not surprised and we think it is long overdue.”
Moore also stated there was no settlement in the case and no money was exchanged.
Freshwater submitted the following written statement to the News:
“Nancy and I prayerfully considered the settlement terms and have decided to REJECT the terms presented. From the beginning, my wife and I have only sought the truth. Revelations in the last few days exposed to us the strategy of those who have harmed me, a strategy designed to obscure the truth rather than seek justice and reconciliation. It has become obvious this federal platform and process will never result in the truth coming forward. Truth is not to be compromised or negotiated or hidden behind money.
“We feel confident that the hearing completed in August 2010, after 38 days of testimony before Referee R. Lee Shepherd, is the best opportunity for revealing the truth we sought from the beginning. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our federal lawsuit against all partiesor monetary gain as proposed, and we have instructed our attorney to file the proper paperwork. We seek no other option than to continue to patiently await the finding of Referee R. Lee Shepherd as he is the person to hear all of the testimony and most importantly see all of the students from my 2007-08 class speak about the truth of what went on during my class.
“We have already spent our life savings and have pledged our farm to get to the truth. It is better to leave the money on the table than to take the Bible off of my desk.”
Moore said, “There was no settlement offer to accept or reject. There was no money on the table for [Freshwater] to leave there. We were baffled when we received the e-mail from him and we can't even begin to speculate why he is saying what he is saying.”