Injured student sues controversial mid-Ohio teacher

The saga of John Freshwater, part XII … While Freshwater’s superiors at the Mount Vernon schools dither, the family of one of his students have resorted to the all-American method of getting to the root of things — they’re suing him and the school district. The suit claims that Freshwater violated the student’s civil rights by allegedly burning a cross into his arm with a Tesla coil and and that his superiors were negligent in not disciplining Freshwater. The school district hired an outsider to investigate the allegations against Freshwater, an otherwise popular seventh-grade science teacher. That report is due Friday, at which time the school board will make some decision about Freshwater’s future, supposedly. Freshwater made a name for himself earlier last year by refusing to remove his Bible from his desk. Christians loved his “Christ’s warrior” decision, but civil libertarians demurred. It then came out that Freshwater was a bit of a religious nut, proselytizing students, teaching creationism, and on at least one instance, burning a cross on a student’s arm with a Tesla coil. That apparently woke up his superiors from their overly cautious slumber. They put an observer in his classroom while the independent investigators did ...

Religious “minutemen” pressure mid-Ohio school board

Meanwhile, in Mount Vernon, Ohio, a group calling itself the “Minutemen” is pushing the local school board to explain why a 7th grade science teacher cannot keep a Bible on his desk, or it will “recall” school board members. School officials say the matter is still under consideration. The teacher in question is John Freshwater, a popular but controversial teacher, who has refused his superiors’ demands that he remove his Bible from students’ view. Freshwater is also under investigation for allegedly burning a cross on a student’s arm, for disseminating religious literature during class, and for proselytizing students. The Minutemen are undoubtedly affiliated with another Christian nutcase up there, “Coach” Dave Daubenmire, who quickly came to Freshwater’s support after the Bible incident. Daubenmire supports a rightwing Christian group, the Minutemen Unlimited. In a letter to school officials, the Mount Vernon Minutemen say they will replace the school board if the school system does not announce its supports the Bible. “Although we do not want this to be taken as a threat, we feel it is only right that we inform you that if a public statement is not made in support of the Bible by June 10 we will have ...

Parents criticize, defend mid-Ohio science teacher at board meeting 1

Seventh-grade science teacher John Freshwater has his supporters, but his religious agenda in the classroom has clearly not won over everyone in Mount Vernon, Ohio. At a school board meeting Monday night, he had as many friends as foes in the audience. Freshwater made headlines several weeks ago when he refused to remove his Bible from his classroom desk. Soon, there were allegations that he was preaching religion in class, distributing creationist literature to his science students, and that he allegedly burned a cross on a student’s arm with an electrical device. The school district has hired an independent investigator to substantiate or refute the allegations. Freshwater was allowed to continue teaching meanwhile, with an administrative observer in the classroom to monitor him. The device he allegedly used to burn the student is in fact a hand-held Tesla coil, a staple of science education. My students have seen it in action. It can generate high voltage arcs a few centimeters long when held near a ground. While the sparks are not lethal, they can cause pinpoint skin burns that can be pretty painful. I speak from experience. It boggles the mind why any teacher would subject a student to a ...

Know-nothingness at a mid-Ohio middle school

Sometimes you’ve got to wonder if any Christianists have any critical thinking abilities. Well, nevermind, I know the answer to the question already, but here’s yet more evidence that fundies “just don’t get it.” The scene is Mount Vernon (Ohio) Middle School, where seventh-grade science teacher and Christianist John Freshwater stands accused of, among other things, proselytizing his students, burning a cross in a student’s skin, and teaching creationism against district policies. His district is investigating the charges. It seems that some students (and parents, I’ll betcha) assume that if you’re not for Freshwater, you’re not a Christian. Or worse yet, if you’re not Christian, you can’t support him. Witness these quotes from the local newspaper: Several comments from students and parents indicate that acceptance and religious tolerance is a one-way street for many concerned. Beth Murdoch, whose daughter attends the middle school, is one of the parents who has expressed concerns about the sometimes hostile environment at the middle school. “You’re either for Mr. Freshwater or you’re against Mr. Freshwater. There’s no in between,” Murdoch said. “In the kids’ minds, I think, it is just the Bible issue. And who is going to go against the Bible? Nobody. But ...
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