Monday, October 26, 2009

Tesla Coil Matter Was Officially Resolved January 2008

The claim that John Freshwater “branded” a cross onto the arm of a student was item number one of the June 20, 2008 resolution of the Mount Vernon Board of Education. Problem is the school had already signed off on the matter in January of that year.

It wasn’t until after Freshwater refused to remove a Bible off his desk that the allegation was resurrected.

The allegation of the burn has yet to be collaborated, during the administrative hearing, by any source outside of the Dennis family. Freshwater denies that anyone was burned in the classroom demonstration. Other teachers at the school also allowed students to touch the spark from the Tesla coil, including: Steven Farmer, Donald Newcomer and Lori Miller.

The letter to Freshwater setting the matter to rest was signed by Principal William White and Assistant Principal Brad Ritchey. “Subject to follow through on the above issues and no further incidences whereas anyone is being shocked with the machines this letter will not become part of your permanent record,” the letter states. (Click here to view copy of letter.)

White testified at Freshwater’s administrative hearing that the language of the letter, referenced above, was included at the direction of Steve Short, who at the time was interim superintendent.

Jennifer Dennis—mother of the student allegedly burned—testified that she spoke with Short about the incident and told him she did not want to see Freshwater fired over this. “I just felt this was not a good situation, and I was concerned,” Dennis said.

The allegation, although already resolved, was included in the report by H.R. On Call and was included in a lawsuit filed by the Dennis family against Freshwater and the school.

3 comments:

Joan said...

Your statement is incorrect. The allegation was not resolved to the satisfaction of the Dennis family; that is why they pursued legal action. Moreover, you fail to state that the "shocking" was completely against the protocol for the physics equipment, whether or not the students reported harm.

It is a travesty that Freshwater was in the school for over a decade, teaching in his physics class that "homosexuality is a sin" and telling students to conceal his falsehoods about biology. He was finally fired. It is an abuse of the appeal system that outside money keeps paying for his drawn-out appeal, wasting the taxpayers' money for the school board.

Sam Stickle (mountvernon1805) said...

Thanks for commenting, Joan.

Joan said: “Your statement is incorrect. The allegation was not resolved to the satisfaction of the Dennis family; that is why they pursued legal action.”

The matter was, as stated in my article, officially resolved by the school. The federal lawsuit filed by Freshwater against the school board gives further explanation on this issue (John D. Freshwater, et al vs. Mount Vernon City School District Board of Education, et al --Case No. 2:09cv464):

COUNT 13

Res Judicata

196. Defendant Board is bound by the principle or legal doctrine of Res Judicata – “a matter already judged”.

197. Defendant Board’s resolution asserts Plaintiff Freshwater committed actions which include matters previously adjudicated by Defendant Board’s previous administration.

198. Defendant Board previously adjudicated any and all issues reported to and acted upon or not acted upon by the previous administration.

199. Defendant Board previously adjudicated all matters reported to the then administration of Defendant Board to include matters reported by: Plaintiff Freshwater, by and through Freshwater’s submitted lesson plans; by and through performance evaluations upon Freshwater; by and through reports to Defendant Weston; by and through reports to former Superintendent Maley, to include the superintendent’s letter to Freshwater dated June 8, 2006; by and through Defendant White’s letter to Freshwater dated January 22, 2008, which was copied to Defendant Short; and other matters.

200. In the interest of justice and equity, Plaintiff Freshwater cannot be made to answer, defend or contest matters previously affirmed, ratified or resolved by previous administrative actions of Defendant Board and Defendant Board and Plaintiff Freshwater are bound by those determinations Res Judicata from the beginning of or prior to the investigation Ab Initio.

Sam Stickle (mountvernon1805) said...

Joan said: “Moreover, you fail to state that the ‘shocking’ was completely against the protocol for the physics equipment, whether or not the students reported harm.”

There was no warning label on the Tesla coil stating that the spark should not come into contact with human skin. The investigators did not locate an instruction manual with the device. It was standard practice for teachers to allow students to touch the spark.

Joan said: “It is a travesty that Freshwater was in the school for over a decade, teaching in his physics class that ‘homosexuality is a sin’ […]”

The allegation regarding talking about the issue of homosexuality in class: This is an allegation made by just one person—Jim Stockdale. Freshwater’s response to it was that he never made the statement that Stockdale credited to him about gays; Stockdale may have overheard a conversation Freshwater had with other teachers regarding a magazine article about the gay gene. (See my article “John Freshwater: Investigation Didn’t Follow Contract.” )

Joan said: “[…] and telling students to conceal his falsehoods about biology.”

I’m not aware that he ever told students that they couldn’t talk about what they learned in class. As far as what he taught being “falsehoods”—his students met and exceeded state standards on the OAT test. (See my article “Re-teaching John Freshwater’s Ace Students.” )

Joan said: “He was finally fired.”

Freshwater has not been fired—he was placed on unpaid leave back in the summer of 2008. The hearing is still in progress. It is possible that Freshwater will be reinstated as a teacher.

Joan said: “It is an abuse of the appeal system that outside money keeps paying for his drawn-out appeal, wasting the taxpayers' money for the school board.”

Freshwater has not appealed—no decision has been made by the school board for Freshwater to appeal. Here’s how the process works:

When the hearing comes to a close the referee, by law , has to give a recommendation to the school board within ten days. The school board will then make a decision on whether to retain Freshwater as a teacher. If the board votes to fire Freshwater, he can appeal to the court of common pleas.

Freshwater is not engaged in any abuse of the legal system.

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