MOUNT VERNON — Legal wrangling concerning the termination of John Freshwater’s teaching contract by the Mount Vernon City Schools continues. Through its attorney Sarah Moore, the school board on Monday submitted its response to questions raised by U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost.
Frost had expressed doubts about his jurisdiction over the contract termination appeal filed by Freshwater which was moved from Knox County Common Pleas Court to the federal court.
The board said Freshwater’s latest case raises the same issues, claims and factual bases he used in a federal lawsuit he brought against the board in June 2009. That suit was dismissed with prejudice in October 2010, and the board alleges Freshwater “cannot use his appeal to re-litigate issues and claims disposed of by lawsuit No. 1.”
Since Freshwater is indeed claiming some of the same constitutional issues, the board argued, the case does belong in federal court. In the event Frost decides to return the case to Knox County, the board requested that the federal court “first dismiss any and all claims and issues disposed of by the dismissal with prejudice in Lawsuit No. 1 and issue an order” forbidding Freshwater from using those same claims and issues in the future.
The board also informed Frost that Freshwater, in addition to the current lawsuit, is using the same set of facts, [termination hearing] transcripts, exhibits and briefs to support religious discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, on Feb. 10, 2011, and with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Jan. 24, 2011.
Freshwater also filed a response to Judge Frost. He said the case does belong in the state court because his first lawsuit was dismissed in September 2010 when he was suspended from his teaching position. His appeal, Freshwater states, relates to the termination of his contract in January 2011.
He said the termination was “based upon sustained allegations that did not include all of the specified allegations previously levied against me. The termination of John Freshwater upon sustained allegations amounts to a different set of facts, circumstances and transaction, the nature of which, importantly, could not have been joined as claims in the first action.”
The brief further states that Freshwater’s challenge in the appeal is “a challenge of the judgment from the termination hearing rather than trying to start a new trial,” and asserts that if the Ohio Legislature wanted the appeal to be in federal court the Ohio Revised Code “would have been so written.”
It concludes, “My case should be remanded back to the Knox County Court of Common Pleas, Knox County, Ohio.”
It is unknown at this time as to when Frost will make his decision.