Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Photographs of Missing Evidence — John Freshwater Addresses School Board

John Freshwater used his three minutes of public participation time to update the Mount Vernon Board of Education on recent developments related to his employment hearing.

“I thought the hearing was about to end sometime last month but the proceeding changed again because somebody sent an anonymous letter containing some photographs of some items from my classroom,” Freshwater said. “Last week another anonymous delivery was made that contained approximately 300 photographs of items that were in my room.”

“On January 14, 2009 my attorney subpoenaed from the board, Mr. Short and the board’s attorney, all the materials from my classroom,” Freshwater said. “The board’s attorney indicated to my attorney that the board did not have anything from my classroom.”

Also speaking during public participation was Vicky Fitzgerald. She asked questions regarding the school district’s finances and board member Steve Thompson’s involvement with The Community Council For Free Expression.

The financial challenge facing the district was the forefront issue leading up to the last election. The 2008-2009 budget projected that the district was going to have approximately three million more in expenditures than income. For more information, see previous coverage of the three forums held with the candidates:

“Meet the Candidates Night — Local 470 and MVEA”
“Meet the Candidates Night — Knox County Ohio 912 Project”
“Mount Vernon Schools Going Forward – School Board Candidate Forum”

Superintendent Steve Short and the board members did not respond to any comments made by community members.

The board approved putting a renewal levy on the ballot.

UPDATE 2-9-10 at 3:30 P.M.:

An article published today by the Mount Vernon News provides some additional information regarding the missing evidence. The article cites board attorney David Millstone as saying that Freshwater and his attorney have been provided access to all the materials from Freshwater’s classroom that the board has in its possession.

“Anonymous source leads to ‘black bag’ find,” by Samantha Scoles.

UPDATE—related documents:

Anonymous tipster—first letter (dated 1-11-2010, received 1-14-2010).

The PDF file includes several photographs included with the letter. The letter is as follows:


There is so much more you need to know. For now keep these pictures and copies of things you might remember and this note sent to Steve Short. This is not how this situation was supposed to go and there’s alot of regret.

January 11, 2010

Steve Short:

I once trusted you and thought you would be a real good leader. You allowed yourself to become part of some dirty, dirty, dirty, people. I know some of what’s been done. Understand it will be revealed what I know if you do not stop this framing of John Freshwater as a bad man. I cannot stand the lies and deceit that have been done and now is the time to stand up for what’s right. There is proof where these pictures and copies were taken. These pictures are reduced for now but if necessary these pictures and all the others can show the world the full view which will display the location of these books and papers and the other things taken from Freshwater’s classroom. You and this dirty group of people tried to take down one man and ended up hurting the careers of more than just Freshwater. It is wrong what had been done and beware that I don’t tell all to. Remember the do unto others as you would want done unto you may just be done if you let this keep up. You cannot be trusted alone with these pictures so I am sending this letter and thes pictures to others to.

Motion to close hearing to the public (dated 1-19-2010).

The following is from the request, by Kelly Hamilton, to close the hearing:

Presently, it is my desire to close the hearing to the public and by this letter request to do the same. Currently there is someone or more than one person who has information that they anonymously want to inject. As discussed during our conference on January 15, 2010, the anonymous person is looking for a reaction and has likely received a measure of information from the news media or other sources from within the hearing. Strategically it has been decided the anonymous source will more likely appear if they do not know the results of their submission. The greatest likelihood for identifying the anonymous source is to isolate the boundaries or variables by limiting their access to further information.

Anonymous tipster—second letter (found 2-2-2010).

The PDF file contains a copy of the letter. The letter is as follows:


Hope the other stuff helped. There are at least two of us that know about how your stuff was kept at the MS and Central Office. Only recently was your stuff moved. An attorney said this black bag should be returned so here it is with about 300 pictures from two boxes. A blown-whistle law would give protection but need more time. Able to help again more soon and gurantee help before trial. Please understand. Keep your faith. They don’t want the truth.

Police report about the “black bag” find (dated 2-4-2010).

Pastor Don Matolyak said that the written information he provided to the police for this report was his “journaling and was not originally designed to be a police report.”

John Freshwater’s letter to MVBOE (given to board 2-8-2010).

Freshwater’s letter is a written version of the comments he made to the board during its meeting. Included in the letter is the last portion of his comments that he was unable to give due to the three minute time limit.

The Mount Vernon News article—linked to in previous update—includes a response from the board’s attorney regarding the “black bag” find.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Problematic Poster?

There used to be a poster hanging in the Mount Vernon Middle School library that stated “HE’S GOT the WHOLE WORLD in HIS HANDS.” (See previous article “He’s got a Poster at the School.” )

During the recent school board meeting on January 11—the board meetings are held in the middle school library—I noticed the poster was gone. Did someone at the school have a problem with the poster?

Perhaps someone realized that if this poster was going to be allowed at the school then maybe the poster that was in John Freshwater’s classroom was OK. (Freshwater had a poster that showed George W. Bush and his cabinet with their heads bowed.)

(The photo to the left shows a vacant spot on a middle school library wall where the poster used to be. The photo at the right was taken September 2009.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MVBOE New Members Sworn In

New Mount Vernon Board of Education members Paula Barone and Steve Thompson took the oath of office at the board’s Monday organizational meeting. Prior vice-president Dr. Margie Bennett was nominated by Jody Goetzman, seconded by Thompson, to be the new president. Thompson nominated Goetzman, seconded by Barone, to be the new vice-president.

The organizational meeting was followed by the first regular meeting of the year.

There was no public participation.

Dates and times for upcoming board meetings will be posted on the board’s website: http://www.mt-vernon.k12.oh.us/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=34.