Suspended Science Teacher Defends Himself To School Board

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Suspended eighth-grade science teacher John Freshwater defended himself at a meeting Monday night of the Mount Vernon school board.

About 500 people came to hear Freshwater, prompting the meeting to be moved from the Mount Vernon Middle School library to an auditorium, 10TV's Tracy Townsend reported.

DISCUSS:  Tell Us What You Think   | WEB EXTRA: Read Official Report On Freshwater

Freshwater has been accused of teaching creationism in his science class, keeping a Bible on top of his desk and burning a cross onto a student's arm. The teacher said he did nothing wrong and denied some of allegations against him.

"I have never branded or burned a person," Freshwater told the board.

The school board drafted plans to fire Freshwater after an external investigation concluded the science teacher promoted his religious beliefs to his students.

Most of the speakers at the meeting supported Freshwater, including fellow teacher Andrew Thompson, who expressed his concern to board members over the way Freshwater has been disciplined.

"What concerns me the most is that what you're basing your decision on to terminate Mr. Freshwater is on an incomplete, biased, and all-out lie investigation," Thompson said.

A few speakers were critical of Freshwater and supported the board's decision to suspend the teacher and possibly fire him.

"The evidence is clear that Mr. Freshwater overstepped his role egregiously as an educator of science in our public school," Brett Ogle said.

Freshwater's appeals hearing before a state-appointed referee begins August 26.

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Previous Stories:

June 20, 2008: Report: Teacher Burned Cross On Students' Arms
May 13, 2008: Board Hears Comments On Teacher's Religious Views
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