MOUNT VERNON, Ohio – A public school teacher taught creationism in his science class and used a device to burn the image of a cross on students' arms, according to a report by independent investigators.
Mount Vernon Middle School teacher John Freshwater was insubordinate in failing to remove a Bible and other religious materials from his classroom and continued to preach his Christian beliefs despite complaints by other teachers and administrators, according to the report released Thursday by consulting firm H.R. On Call Inc.
The Mount Vernon school board voted 5-0 Friday to pass a resolution of intent to terminate Freshwater's contract. Board attorney David Millstone says Freshwater is entitled to a hearing to challenge the dismissal. A lawyer for Freshwater says he will request such a hearing.
The report, which was conducted by independent investigators, comes one week after a family filed a federal lawsuit in Columbus against Freshwater and the school district, saying Freshwater burned a cross on their child's arm and that a burn mark remained for three or four weeks.
Freshwater's friend Dave Daubenmire defended him.
"With the exception of the cross-burning episode. ... I believe John Freshwater is teaching the values of the parents in the Mount Vernon school district," he told The Columbus Dispatch in a story published Friday.
Several students interviewed by investigators described Freshwater, who has been employed by the school district for 21 years, as a great guy. But Lynda Weston, the district's director of teaching and learning, told investigators that she has dealt with complaints about Freshwater for much of her 11 years at the district, the report said.
A former superintendent, Jeff Maley, said he tried to find another position for Freshwater but couldn't because Freshwater was certified only in science, the report said.
Freshwater used a science tool known as a high frequency generator to burn images of a cross on students' arms in December, the report said. Freshwater told investigators he simply was trying to demonstrate the device on three to eight students and described the images an "X" not a cross. But pictures show the images depict a cross, the report said.
Other findings show that Freshwater taught the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution.