The Ballad of John Freshwater finally ends

JISHOU, HUNAN — Like the fabled “Song That Never Ends,” the story of John Freshwater, a middle school Ohio science teacher bent on proselytizing his students, seems to have gone on and on and on …

The end is this: he will be dismissed from his teaching job at the Mount Vernon public schools.

Actually, that’s the same ending as before, but he was entitled to an administrative hearing, which dragged on for almost two years. In a decision released this week, the referee for the hearing agreed with the school district, and said, “Yup, Freshwater is out.”

John Freshwater purposely used his classroom to advance his Christian religious views knowing full well or ignoring the fact that those views might conflict with the private beliefs of his students. John Freshwater refused and/or failed to employ objectivity in his instruction of a variety of science subjects and, in so doing, endorsed a particular religious doctrine. By this course of conduct John Freshwater repeatedly violated the Establishment Clause. Without question, the repeated violation of the Constitution of The United States is a “fairly serious matter” and is, therefore, a valid basis for termination of John Freshwater’s contract(s). Further, he repeatedly acted in defiance of direct instructions and orders of the administrators – his superiors. These defiant acts are also a “fairly serious matter” and, therefore, a valid basis for termination of John Freshwater’s contract (s). My recommendation to the Board of Education of the Mount Vernon City School District is that the Board terminate John Freshwater’s contract(s) for “good and just cause”.

Way back in 2008, Freshwater made a name for himself for two things: refusing to remove a copy of the Bible from the top of his desk, as directed by his principal, and burning a cross-shaped design on a student’s arm with a Tesla coil. (A Tesla coil is a high-voltage device that we physics teachers like to use for a lot of demos — on inanimate objects, not people.)

Freshwater was sued, not only for the burning, but also for the flagrant abuse of his teacher’s “bully pulpit” to teach his version of Christianity, which denies evolution, the Big Bang, and related scientific ideas. His room had many Christian-themed posters. His handouts and teaching style deliberately taught evolution was bunk and the story of Creation in Genesis was the literal truth.

Richard Hoppe at The Panda’s Thumb has covered the whole saga from beginning to end, even to the point of sitting through the interminable hearings regarding Freshwater’s firing. I blogged about the case when it first broke, but decided I would wait until the dust settled before resuming commentary. As it is now, I need to wait until the end-of-term dust settles here before I have time to do it justice. So, if you’re wanting details, read the articles at Panda’s Thumb.

I’ll get back to you on that.

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