Freshwater the story continues

After the attempts by Coach Daubenmire to defend Freshwater have failed miserably, most recently on Geraldo, an “official site” named “ Bible on the Desk” has been created which claims to be the official site for Freshwater. Its most visible attribute is a Donate button and a FoxNews interview.

The interview asks some good questions and I find it fascinating how Freshwater and his lawyer dance around some of the issues. Discussing the various allegations, the interviewer mentions that Freshwater took his trusty bible to school, that he displayed 10 commandments and other religious verses and that he had been teaching creationism in class.

FreshwaterL “I teach evolution. I am a science teacher, I taught in Idaho and taught evolution there.”

Q: Have you been teaching that [intelligent design] ?

Freshwater: “Let me first teach you something. We have three categories evolution, intelligent design, over here we have creation. I teach evolution, I do not teach ID, I do not teach creationism”.

Three categories?…. Interesting and telling distinction.

So did Freshwater teach Intelligent Design?

Let’s compare the statement on Fox News with the following news article:

Pastor Matolyak said the entire ordeal started five years ago when Freshwater raised a question to his students about intelligent design. Freshwater was covering the theory in his classroom, just as he was covering the theory of evolution, when he received complaints about the inclusion of intelligent design in his curriculum. Meetings ensued with the principal, superintendent, and eventually the school board, which shot down his argument that intelligent design, like the theory of evolution, should be taught as a creation theory. Freshwater then agreed to stop teaching the theory and has not done so since.

Source: Tim Waggoner Teacher Fired for Refusing to Remove Bible from Desk, Allegedly Teaching Religion in Class

The investigative report finds that

There is a significant amount of evidence that Mr. Freshwaters’ teachings regarding subjects related to evolution were not consistent with the curriculum of the Mount Vernon City Schools and State standards. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement, the evidence indicates he has been teaching creationism and intelligent design and has been teaching the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution. He has passed out materials to students for the past several years challenging evolution and then collecting the materials back from the students. He has done so in spite of specific directives not to teach creationism or intelligent design. He has taught students to use the code word “Here” to challenge scientific process that is considered settled by the high school science teachers.


Mr. Freshwater gave an extra credit assignment for students to view the movie “Expelled” which does involve intelligent design.


Dr. Weston stated that she has had to deal with internal and external complaints about his failure to follow the curriculum for much of her 11 years at Mount Vernon. It has come to her attention many times. She has reported these events to administrators and there have been some attempts to make changes and other instances where they seem to have been disregarded, particularly by one former assistant principal. She said that Mr. Freshwater cannot separate creationism/intelligent design from teaching to the science standards. She stated Mr. Freshwater has a lot of influence with his students that causes her concern.

Former Superintendent Jeff Maley said he had received informal complaints regarding Mr. Freshwaters’ teaching creationism/intelligent design rather than evolution. When he had such circumstances with Mr. Freshwater he would tell him not to teach creationism or intelligent design. He stated he never had complaints concerning any other teacher like the ones concerning Mr. Freshwater. He tried to find another position for Mr. Freshwater, but could not do so because he was only certified in science.

A current student said that Mr. Freshwater would throw out both sides of issues, such as the big bang theory, intelligent design, carbon dating and evolution. When asked, Mr. Freshwater would offer his personal opinion such as I believe there was a boat in a flood. He also taught that you can’t trust radiometric dating.

One student indicated Mr. Freshwater discussed the meaning of Good Friday and Easter during a class when the phases of the moon were discussed and how it affected when Easter occurs. The Middle School Principal and Superintendent questioned Mr. Freshwater and he acknowledged to them, contrary to our interview, that he “might have discussed” the meaning of Easter and Good Friday, including the “Resurrection,” for one or two minutes. The Superintendent advised Mr. Freshwater that was one or two minutes too long.

The investigators found the following material in the second cupboard in the front of the room during a walk through of Mr. Freshwaters’ classroom on May 15, 2008:

· A book titled “Refuting Evolution” · A video tape titled “Lies In The Textbooks, Part A 4 Of 7, 10 Lies Of Evolution” · A book titled “Evolution Of A Creationist” · A book titled “The Real Meaning Of The Zodiac” · A book titled “Icons of Evolution”

An interesting selecting of materials indeed.

When asked about the branding, Freshwater responded:

“I did not John Freshwater did not brand anybody. That is not truth. I did not brand anybody. ‘

Q: “So someone made it up? “

Lawyer: “You have seen a picture that has been purported to be a particular mark, somebody has put the cross designation on that particular mark. John very thoroughly explained not only to the investigators but to anybody who will listen. Hedid not burn, branded or made any kind of religious symbol on anybody. Not himself, not his family and certainly not a student in a public school system. There has not been any medical deduced indicating that that actual mark…

Q: I am just asking, that wasn’t the result of any scientific experiment designed to put a cross so that you could promote your religious beliefs, that’s what I am reading that’s what I am hearing

Lawyer: He did not design to put a cross on that particular arm. He very thoroughly explained that on many different occasions.

Q: Was the cross or the X the result from an experiment you performed on a student.

Lawyer: There was a particular experiment he has been doing for 21 years. And John will speak more precisely to that. But let’s not load the question with an improper premise that he branded a religious symbol upon anybody. He conducted the same scientific experiment that he in addition to several other teachers did in Mt Vernon.

In other words, there was a “science experiment” which involved marking the arms of students which had been performed by Freshwater for 21 years as well as other teachers. The question(s) now remain: Was the mark an “X” or a cross?

In the investigative report the following statement is made

He said that he uses the device about twice a year and has done so for 21 years. At the end of the experiment the kids are excited and ask if they can touch it. He said that he demonstrates it on his own arm by making an “X” and then lets them touch it voluntarily. He said that the incident in question occurred in December 2007. He remembers getting from 3 to 8 volunteers, but couldn’t remember the order or all of the names.

As to the nature of the mark, the report alleges that

The current or former students that were interviewed that had participated in the December 2007 incident or other similar incidents in earlier years described the demonstration in the same manner as had Mr. Freshwater with one exception. They all described the mark Mr. Freshwater put on his arm as a “cross”. One student stated Mr. Freshwater would mark the student with a cross unless the student requested a different type of marking. It was the default mark. The pictures below were provided by the parents.

and the summary of findings

Summary Of Findings

Mr. Freshwater did improperly use an electrostatic device on the student who filed the complaint and other students in his science class in a manner that was not in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions. While there did not appear to be any intent by Mr. Freshwater to cause injury to any student, he was not using the device for its intended purpose. Contrary to Mr. Freshwater’s statement he simply made an “X” not a “cross,” all of the students described the marking as a “cross” and the pictures provided depict a “cross”.

See also Ohio town split over teacher accused of preaching for a recent Fox News article on “Freshwater”.