Board Hears Comments On Teacher's Religious Views

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A standing-room-only crowd packed a board meeting on Monday night of the Mount Vernon City Schools to talk about a teacher whose religious views have become a focus of controversy.

Eighth-grade science teacher John Freshwater came under fire first for refusing to remove a Bible from his desk in the classroom, 10TV's Tracy Townsend reported. Then a complaint was filed that the teacher held "healing sessions" and used an electrostatic devise to burn crosses on student arms.

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Both supporters and detractors of Freshwater jammed the regularly scheduled meeting held in the library of Mount Vernon Middle School. Many addressed the question of whether Freshwater was imposing his Christian beliefs on students.

Freshwater attended the meeting but he did not speak. Some of those who spoke on his behalf were fellow members of his church, Trinity Assembly of God in Mount Vernon.

"I've watched him in class and I've never seen him cross any lines and I just support him fully," said Pastor Don Matolyak.

Although supporters appeared to make up a larger proportion of those attending the meeting, critics of Freshwater also spoke.

Sam Barone said he discovered that Freshwater was teaching creationism when his son was a student in Freshwater’s class.

"Six years ago my wife and I were silent when Mr. Freshwater began teaching creationism and as a result of that lines were crossed," Barone said.

The board took no action concerning Freshwater at the meeting, and an outside investigation of him continues.

Stay with 10TV News and refresh for additional information.

Previous Stories:

April 23, 2008: Parents: Why The Delay In Investigating Teacher?
April 22, 2008: Teacher Accused Of Burning Crosses Onto Students' Arms
April 17, 2008: Student Backs Teacher In Fight To Keep Bible On Desk
April 16, 2008: Teacher Refuses To Move Bible From Desk