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‘Cross-burning’ teacher files another appeal

by on
in Firing,Human Resources

An Ohio science teacher who unsuccessfully sued to win back his job after being fired for branding a cross on a student’s arm and proselytizing his Chris­tian beliefs in the classroom has filed an appeal in federal court.

John Freshwater’s appeal means a legal saga that began in 2008 will continue for at least a few more months—and add to the Mount Vernon School District’s rapidly mounting legal bills.

Freshwater, who taught middle school science in Mount Vernon for 21 years, often peppered his lessons with religious views on evolution, homosexuality and other subjects, and kept a Bible on his classroom desk.

Following the branding incident in 2008, school officials suspended Fresh­water. A lengthy appeals process that cost the Mount Vernon schools more than $900,000 to defend, affirmed the school system’s ultimate decision to fire him. Freshwater then sued in federal court, but withdrew his suit in 2010.

About the same time, he settled a lawsuit with the alleged victim of the branding.

In 2011, Freshwater again sued for reinstatement in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas, but the court ruled against him. In December 2011, he filed an appeal with Ohio’s 5th District Court of Appeals.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

mountvernon1805 July 7, 2012 at 7:45 am

T’omm J’Onzz,

The school board DID NOT include the false branding/burning incident as a reason for the firing.

The school’s records show that the school IS NOT directly incurring any additional legal bills for the appeal (the appeal is covered by the school’s insurance).

Only one person, a substitute intervention specialist, claimed to have heard Mr. Freshwater teach his class his “religious views on” the subject of homosexuality. The school’s records show that the “witness” DID NOT have any duties that would have led him to be in Mr. Freshwater’s classroom during the time he claimed to have heard the remarks.


T'omm J'Onzz February 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm

maybe it’s due to the school board’s and court’s findings, and the fact that defending frivolous law suits isn’t free. Google is a wonderful thing; you just tell it “John Freshwater Ohio” and voilà!


T'omm J'Onzz February 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm

naturally he continues to appeal; he’s an evangelical Christian — a Christaliban — and therefore, he //can’t// be wrong.


mountvernon1805 February 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I’m curious as to the source(s) of the information in your article: Why does your article say that the teacher was “fired for branding a cross on a student’s arm”? Why does your article say that the teacher’s appeal will “add to the Mount Vernon School District’s rapidly mounting legal bills”? Have you done any research to verify the allegations made against the teacher, such as the allegation that he taught his class “religious views on” the subject of homosexuality?

Thanks in advance,



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