Report: Ohio science teacher burned cross on kids’ arms

Published: Friday June 20, 2008

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An outside investigation has found that an Ohio public school teacher taught creationism in his science class and used a device to burn the image of a cross on students’ arms.

One family filed a federal lawsuit against Mount Vernon Middle School teacher John Freshwater and the school district last week, saying their child was left with a burn mark for three or four weeks.

The report also says Freshwater was insubordinate in failing to remove a Bible and other religious materials from his classroom.

The findings released Thursday by consulting firm H.R. On Call Inc. were to be discussed Friday at a school board meeting.

“Eighth-graders who were taught by John Freshwater frequently had to be re-taught in high school what they were supposed to have learned in Freshwater’s class, according to outside investigators hired by the district,” Alayna DeMartini reports for The Columbus Dispatch. “For 11 years, other teachers in the school district and people in the community complained about Freshwater preaching his Christian beliefs in class and slamming scientific theories, a school administrator told investigators.”

Further excepts from Columbus Dispatch article:


The report confirms that Freshwater burned crosses onto students’ arms, using an electrostatic device, in December. Freshwater told investigators the marks were Xs, not crosses. But all of the students interviewed in the investigation reported being branded with crosses. The investigation report includes a photo of one student’s arm with a long vertical line and a short horizontal line running through it.

The family of one student who was burned filed a federal lawsuit last week against Freshwater and the district, saying the student’s civil rights were violated. Today, the family’s attorney, Jessica Philemond, said it was unfortunate that the school district didn’t do anything sooner to stop Freshwater. “These concerns had been going on for at least 11 years and the school had not done anything,” she said.

A teacher who worked in Freshwater’s classroom last year also reported to investigators that Freshwater told his class that homosexuality is a sin.



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