John Freshwater Finally Fired January 12, 2011

John Freshwater Finally Fired

John Freshwater, the Creationism-spewing science teacher who branded his students with a cross, has finally — finally! — been fired.

In his wake, he leaves several students who are very likely undereducated when it comes to basic science and a $900,000 bill.

The dismissal should’ve happen a long time ago. But the administrators just looked the other way… until it was too much to slide under a rug. So while it’s sad to see a public school district spending so much money to deal with Freshwater, it’s partly their fault for not detecting this problem much earlier. No teacher should be using the classroom as a religious pulpit.

Meanwhile, Freshwater can finally go after that ministry job he clearly wanted in the first place.

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  • Adam

    He branded his students with a cross and his only consequence was being fired? That’s assault, even child abuse.

    Honestly, those school administrators should be at the least put on some sort of probation for allowing this to continue, possibly even more actions. $900,000 is a ridiculously large amount of money from the local taxpayers spent to slow and lessen the punishment of a child-abusing constitution violator.

  • Danielle

    Good riddance.

    He should be in jail though.

  • Where were the parents at? If this happened at my school when I was that age my (Christian) mother would have freaked out about this guys actions. She would have made sure he was gone quick!

  • Rob

    No teacher should be using the classroom as a religious pulpit.

    Public teachers, anyway.

  • He may be out of the teaching position, but I get the feeling this lunatic will try something again…or some AFA-like place will attempt to use him to get what they want.

  • JD

    The branding should have been investigated at the very least.

    I’d like to know more about the back end though. The process to fire a teacher can be a maze in some states and districts, because the rules, contracts and laws regarding firing teachers is very restrictive. It’s such that a district near me had to pay a teacher convicted of inappropriate sexual conduct to quit, the settlement was something like $70,000.

  • anon

    If he’d branded *my* child, being fired would have been the least of his worries. I say he got off easy.

  • Richard Wade

    This ongoing story has astonished me in its pattern of milquetoast consequence compared to the nature of the offense. If that fruitcake had done that to my kid, he’d be farting out of a new hole and breathing out of the old hole.

  • Sinfanti

    @JD – Don’t forget that in many areas public school teachers are union employees. This makes discipline and firings all the more difficult.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    I must have missed something, if I had branded a child I would expect to be in jail that day, firing a mere formality of paperwork done by a clerk by the end of the week.

  • Adam

    Yeah, something here does not make sense. Forget firing this douche-bag – why was he not arrested and charged with child abuse?

  • ACN

    Link to the Panda Thumb Archive of this entire debacle

    The whole event is utterly bizarre.

  • Eskomo

    I read that it was not a brand, but more of a burn like a sunburn. Still serious. A separate civil suit settlement of $450,000 was paid to the family, covered by insurance. Guess who’s insurance rates are going up in the future?

  • did he get a severance package?

  • thanks for the link ACN

    WHEREAS the Board adopts the Referee’s Report, finding the following conduct as “good and just cause” under Revised Code Section 3319.16 for the termination of Mr. Freshwater’s teaching contract(s):

    § Mr. Freshwater injected his personal religious beliefs into his plan and pattern of instructing his students. In doing so, he exceeded the bounds of all the pertinent Bylaws/Policies of the Mount Vernon City School District;

    § In 2003, Mr. Freshwater unsuccessfully petitioned the Board to allow him “to critically examine the evidence both for and against evolution.” Despite the Board’s rejection of this proposal, Mr. Freshwater undertook the instruction of his eighth grade science students, as if the suggested policy had been implemented;

    § On more than one occasion, Mr. Freshwater was reminded by his superiors that he must abide by the Bylaws & Policies, as they related to religion in the curriculum;

    § Mr. Freshwater’s “evidence” against evolution was based, in large part, upon the Christian religious principals of Creationism and Intelligent Design;

    § Mr. Freshwater’s use of “against evolution” materials ran afoul of the District’s Bylaws/Policies;

    § Mr. Freshwater used unauthorized handouts to challenge evolution, based in large part upon the Christian religious principals of Creationism and Intelligent Design;

    § Mr. Freshwater used motion pictures (Expelled; No Intelligence Allowed) and videos (the Watchmaker) to challenge evolution, which were based in large part upon the Christian religious principals of Creationism and Intelligent Design;

    § Mr. Freshwater taught his students to use the code word “here” when teaching students to question printed materials from science textbooks, which were approved and provided by the Board;

    § Mr. Freshwater taught his eighth grade students that homosexuality is a sin, so anyone who chooses to be a homosexual is a sinner. Mr. Freshwater also taught his students that science and scientists can be wrong when they declare that there is a genetic predisposition to homosexuality;

    § Mr. Freshwater not only injected his subjective, biased, Christian religion based, non-scientific opinion into the instruction of eighth grade science students but also gave those students reason to doubt the accuracy and or veracity of scientists, science textbooks, and/or science in general;

    · Mr. Freshwater acted in defiance of direct instructions and orders of the administrators (Insubordination);

    § Mr. Freshwater was directed to remove or discontinue the display of all religious articles in his classroom, including all posters of a religious nature, and whereas, Mr. Freshwater has failed to comply with that directive and, further, has brought additional religious articles into his classroom, in a direct act of insubordination

    dispite all this, when the school board roll call was done in deciding if this man would be fired, Mr. Steve Thompson voted nay. How could anyone oppose firing this teacher? I am now very concerned about Steve Thompson being on the school board.

  • Heidi

    YES!! Also, +1 to what Richard said.

    @Eskomo: How is burning a cross into a kid’s arm not a brand? Because he didn’t have a cross-shaped stamp?

  • Bob

    That Freshwater used a symbol of his faith is irrelevant to some extent; as a parent, I’d be ticked off if he burned the logo of his favorite sports team onto my child’s arm.

  • Silent Service

    I wonder at the fact that Freshwater isn’t in jail for child abuse and child endangerment. Something stinks here in Ohio.

  • Randy

    Go to Pandas Thumb and read the blow by blow. The question of why wasn’t he charged with assualt is explained (a settlement was reached with the family). Perfect example of our legal system at work.

  • I don’t know why this surprises me that it took them over two years to decide to fire him, and why the costs run to a monumental $900,000.
    When I made a complaint about my maths teacher bullying me, the school basically told me there was nothing they could do and I had to get a private tutor.

  • Denis Robert

    He was only fired? How about prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for child abuse? If branding a child is not a crime, then nothing is.

  • Denis Robert

    Re: the settlement with the family.

    I understand from reading further that the family “settled” with this monster. HOW CAN YOU SETTLE ON A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT? This is a crime that was committed, not a simple violation of a contract.

    That’s what’s so nuts about the American legal system: everything is considered a lawsuit. But a violent crime is a violent crime, and it’s not a lawsuit that’s required, it’s a prosecution. The man should be in jail, not paying restitution.

    If he did that here in Canada, he would be in jail. Period. And then Americans say that our system is too lenient…. Funny.

  • Randy


    Simple, criminal charges were never filed. While I agree he was out of line with the whole “branding” thing, most of you act like he cut the kids arm off. If they had pressed charges and considering how minor the burn was, he wouldn’t have spent a day in jail. They, the BOE, chose to go after something they really could fire him for, breach of contract.

  • I’m glad he’s been fired. I do think he should have done jail time for burning crosses into the kids, though, — even if it was minor.

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