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.