At the recommendation of a state-appointed referee and a hearing that spanned two years, the Mt. Vernon school board voted last night to fire middle school science teacher John Freshwater, who was accused of preaching creationism in the classroom and of using a Tesla coil to burn a cross into the arm of a student.
According to the Mt. Vernon News, the vote was 4-1 to fire Freshwater. The ever-diligent Dick Hoppe at Panda’s Thumb has a summary of the referee’s recommendation. Interestingly, the referee’s recommendation focused more on Freshwater’s violation of the separation of church and state, rather than the physical assault on a student.
The litany of Freshwater’s religious activity in the classroom goes back more than a decade and includes him displaying posters of the Ten Commandments and bible versus and teaching students in science class that evolution is a lie. After the parents of Zachary Dennis complained to the district about the burn on their son’s arm way back in December 2007, the district began an investigation, in which Freshwater’s religious proselytizing was revealed. Freshwater fought the district’s attempts to fire him. The burning incident also led to a civil court case that was finally settled in last month.
Freshwater may appeal the decision to the Knox County Court of Common Pleas.