The situation surrounding the refusal to testify by the Mt. Vernon Board of Education members has been clarified. The Mt. Vernon News reports that according to the Common Pleas judge, the Board of Education quashed the subpoenas for testimony by Ian Watson and Jody Goetzman on the (official) ground that they have no direct knowledge of the allegations made against Freshwater and could therefore only offer hearsay testimony. Quashing the subpoenas basically takes them out of existence, so there were no subpoenas be complied with and so the judge didn’t order compliance with (now) non-existent subpoenas. (I know, I know: I tried to write a cleaner sentence, but I’m tired.) Further,
Since the matter is an administrative hearing, the judge said, the board has the legal authority to issue and quash subpoenas. He added that he has no grounds under law to overturn the board’s decision to invalidate the subpoenas in this case.
R. Kelly Hamilton apparently called the Board Members because he is trying to make the case that there is a conspiracy against Freshwater in which some teachers, administrators, Board Members, and other unnamed people have been trying to get get rid of him for years. Don Matolyak, Freshwater’s pastor, made that allegation around the time the hearing began in October 2008:
In 2003, Freshwater asked the Mount Vernon school board if he and other teachers could “critically examine” evolution in class. The school board said no.
“From that point on, John had a bull’s-eye on him,” said Don Matolyak, Freshwater’s pastor.
The board has carried out a vendetta against Freshwater because he wanted to teach alternative views to evolution, and that offended school-board members who believe in evolution, Matolyak said.
Pam Schehl’s interview with the judge also clarified another matter that’s been hovering out there:
The way the law is structured, Freshwater has the right to appeal whatever decision the board makes regarding his contract termination. If Freshwater does appeal to the court of common pleas at that time, the judge may or may not require additional testimony not presented during the administrative hearing.
So this process may well not be completed within the reign of the current monarch.
A couple of developments should be noted. First, as you may recall, R. Kelly Hamilton, John Freshwater’s attorney, subpoenaed two members of the Mt. Vernon Board of Education, Ian Watson and Jody Goetzman. They declined to testify, arguing that were they to testify they would have to recuse themselves from subsequently voting on the recommendation of the hearing referee, and that would leave the BoE short of a quorum and it would be unable to act on the recommendation. Hamilton asked the Knox County Court of Common Pleas to compel their testimony, but yesterday the judge declined to do so on the ground that he does not have jurisdiction. I don’t yet know what Hamilton will do next.
Second, Freshwater has recently amended his federal complaint (pdf) that was filed June 9, 2009, to include
213. Plaintiffs incorporate the foregoing paragraphs of this Complaint as if fully restated herein.
214. At the time of Defendants actions Plaintiffs John and Nancy Freshwater were married and continue to be married.
215. As a result of the wrongful and negligent acts of the Defendants, Plaintiffs were caused to suffer, and will continue to suffer in the future, loss of consortium, loss of society, affection, assistance, and conjugal fellowship, all to the detriment of their marital relationship.
Third, the session scheduled for tomorrow, July 10, has been postponed. The hearing is currently scheduled to resume July 24, but given the recent twitchiness of the schedule I’m not counting on it happening. Hamilton may appeal the Common Pleas court decision, and I have no idea how long that might take.
I still have those 50 pages of notes to transcribe on the two days of hearings in May. I hope to get to that one of these days real soon now. :)