Freshwater: Referee recommends termination

| 62 Comments

Knoxpages.com is reporting this morning that R. Lee Shepherd, the referee in the administrative hearing on the termination of John Freshwater as a middle school science teacher in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, has recommended that Freshwater be terminated. I don’t have the referee’s report yet, and will post more when I do. Meanwhile see Adam Taylor’s story at the linked site.

62 Comments

Boy, you are quick. This just came out.

Here is the Columbus Dispatch story..

An excellent outcome. Will he be expected to pay costs?

Malchus said:

An excellent outcome. Will he be expected to pay costs?

Not the District’s costs, though he is responsible for his own legal fees and reportedly pledged his farm (~40 acres, IIRC) to cover those costs.

What is the probability that the recommendation will be ignored? At this point, I would assume that the recommendation will be accepted and Freshwater will finally learn his lesson.

DS said:

What is the probability that the recommendation will be ignored? At this point, I would assume that the recommendation will be accepted and Freshwater will finally learn his lesson.

Three of the five current members of the Board of Education voted in favor of the resolution to consider termination two years ago. Of the two others, one, Steve Thompson, is an avowed Freshwater supporter and former member of a group that raised funds for his legal costs. The other, Paula Barone, recused herself from participation in discussions or votes on the matter after her election “at this time.” Whether she will reconsider that recusal now is unknown.

Thompson did not recuse himself from the matter in spite of his public support of Freshwater and the attendant litigation risk he brings on the Board.

I’ve been waiting for Shepherd to release his report before stating what I am sure many others have thought. Shepherd was milking this hearing and intentionally delaying releasing the report to increase his fees. Not knowing whether he follows PT’s reporting and comments, was the reason I held off saying that. I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong on that.

Do you have any good reason to believe this is the case?

Charley Horse said:

I’ve been waiting for Shepherd to release his report before stating what I am sure many others have thought. Shepherd was milking this hearing and intentionally delaying releasing the report to increase his fees. Not knowing whether he follows PT’s reporting and comments, was the reason I held off saying that. I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong on that.

Yes, I think I do. My own observations in following this the entire time. I would like to see how his fees and expenses were structured. Hourly, daily, retainer, etc. As I said, I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong.

Thanks RBH. Sounds like a done deal. Hopefully the board will also realize what the consequences of ignoring the recommendation would be, especially after all the time and expense of the hearings.

Charley Horse said:

Yes, I think I do. My own observations in following this the entire time. I would like to see how his fees and expenses were structured. Hourly, daily, retainer, etc. As I said, I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong.

I actually doubt your conjecture. It was clear that Shepherd lost control of the hearing, or at least failed to exercise control, early on, and once that pattern was established he just rode with it. But I doubt that it was a fee-seeking tactic (though that’s a side effect, of course).

Charley Horse said:

Yes, I think I do. My own observations in following this the entire time. I would like to see how his fees and expenses were structured. Hourly, daily, retainer, etc. As I said, I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong.

I was hoping for more specifics: can you identify specific delaying tactics he employed? Instances where it was clear that there was no reason not to move forward, etc.? You’re talking about a fairly serious charge; I’m curious what the data is to back it up.

Is this the part where we start singing “Ding Dong the witch is dead”?

Better late than never. Out of all the separate cases and their overseers, the referee is the one that really worried me when it came to people who might buy into some of Hamilton’s obfuscating arguments and FUD tactics.

I may also have been the case that Shepherd was just letting Freshwater provide the maximum quantity of rope for himself.

I’ve just learned that in late November, after the settlement of the last federal suit, Paula Barone notified the Board of Education that she was withdrawing her recusal. So she will participate in the discussions concerning the referee’s recommendation and will vote on it.

If the boobs vote not to terminate Freshwater, what then? Regardless of how the board votes I can’t imagine Freshwater riding off into the sunset. There’s gonna be trouble in River City.

Doc Bill said:

If the boobs vote not to terminate Freshwater, what then? Regardless of how the board votes I can’t imagine Freshwater riding off into the sunset. There’s gonna be trouble in River City.

“Boobs”? Is that a reference to the BOE? If so, it’s badly mistaken (with the possible exception of one member). Aside from Thompson, who is a loose cannon, the other four members are hard-working and thoughtful.

As to what would happen if the Board votes to accept the referee’s recommendation, Freshwater then still has the option to bring suit in the Court of Common Pleas, the lowest level in the state court system. Whether he will do so or not is unknown.

If the Board votes to ignore the referee’s recommendation and retain Freshwater, he will collect back pay for the period that he’s been suspended and will go back into the classroom.

Well, I am almost sad it is over. RBH, you have done’ a fantastic job of reporting on this case.

Many Thanks.

Gary Hurd said:

Well, I am almost sad it is over. RBH, you have done’ a fantastic job of reporting on this case.

Many Thanks.

Thanks, Gary, though I have to say I’m not sorry it’s (almost) over!

Gary Hurd said:

Well, I am almost sad it is over. RBH, you have done’ a fantastic job of reporting on this case.

Many Thanks.

Fantastic is an understatement.

As Dick has noted on other occasions, one cannot be as intensely exposed to ID/creationist nonsense as he has without having the distinct feeling that one is loosing brain cells as a result. It can get really painful at times.

I just did a little website checking. I see that the Accountability in the Media website that has laid low since October when it’s creator was subpeoned for the Federal Court case has added to their webpage. The last notation made was about the federal case being dismissed in October 2010. The website has now added the information about when the next school board mtg is for the year 2011. I find that very interesting and possibly a “subtle hint” to Freshwater supporters.

The question now will be whether Mr. Thompson, one of 2 new school board members and a friend of Freshwater’s, will recuse himself from any School Board vote regarding the referee’s recommendation.

Malchus said:

Charley Horse said:

Yes, I think I do. My own observations in following this the entire time. I would like to see how his fees and expenses were structured. Hourly, daily, retainer, etc. As I said, I would like nothing better than to be proven wrong.

I was hoping for more specifics: can you identify specific delaying tactics he employed? Instances where it was clear that there was no reason not to move forward, etc.? You’re talking about a fairly serious charge; I’m curious what the data is to back it up.

I would like to see more specifics on what he was paid. I also want to see the final report. The news items on this say he is not addressing the cross burning which I find odd.

Once I see the report and spend a bit of time trying to find out how much he was paid, I may have more to say. Does anyone have a clue where to find out how much his total fee is?

RBH said:

Doc Bill said:

If the boobs vote not to terminate Freshwater, what then? Regardless of how the board votes I can’t imagine Freshwater riding off into the sunset. There’s gonna be trouble in River City.

“Boobs”? Is that a reference to the BOE? If so, it’s badly mistaken (with the possible exception of one member). Aside from Thompson, who is a loose cannon, the other four members are hard-working and thoughtful.

As to what would happen if the Board votes to accept the referee’s recommendation, Freshwater then still has the option to bring suit in the Court of Common Pleas, the lowest level in the state court system. Whether he will do so or not is unknown.

If the Board votes to ignore the referee’s recommendation and retain Freshwater, he will collect back pay for the period that he’s been suspended and will go back into the classroom.

I would also have to wonder if the Board would vote to ignore the recommendation if that wouldn’t set up Mt. Vernon for the same fate as Dover: making the school district “uninsurable and losing the insurance that has protected them during this lawsuit.

seabiscuit said: The question now will be whether Mr. Thompson, one of 2 new school board members and a friend of Freshwater’s, will recuse himself from any School Board vote regarding the referee’s recommendation.

Can one only recuse oneself, or can other members cause one to be recused? Thompson should obviously not be permitted to participate in the fire/don’t fire decision - but how to get him to recuse himself if he doesn’t do the honorable thing himself?

Okay, I’ll venture a prediction: The board will go along with the recommendation. Whatever they do will be controversial, but approving the referee’s report is the most justifiable action. The referee heard all the evidence, the board is in no position to second-guess the referee, etc. Clean, simple, and defensible.

One could easily argue that the board is in the unenviable position of risking continued legal action either way. Based on that alone it makes the most sense to bet against the guy who is now 0-3 in legal proceedings.

Paul Burnett said:

seabiscuit said: The question now will be whether Mr. Thompson, one of 2 new school board members and a friend of Freshwater’s, will recuse himself from any School Board vote regarding the referee’s recommendation.

Can one only recuse oneself, or can other members cause one to be recused? Thompson should obviously not be permitted to participate in the fire/don’t fire decision - but how to get him to recuse himself if he doesn’t do the honorable thing himself?

That’s a good question and one I don’t have the answer to. Would be nice to think there is a way for the other members to recuse him since he could put them all in a situation that could prove to be harmful to all.

Would be nice to think there is a way for the other members to recuse him since he could put them all in a situation that could prove to be harmful to all.

Which means almost surely it won’t happen. Creationists seem unable to follow any policy other than scorched earth.

I think it’s almost certain that Thompson won’t recuse himself and that the Board won’t address that question.

Cubist said: Addendum to my previous comment: Suppose John Doe is a teacher who insists on presenting phlogiston to their students as if it were a valid scientific concept. Tell me, Chuck: Do you think Doe should be encouraged, or disciplined?

Looks like Chuck was a troll of the “drivebyus” subspecies, so I don’t think anyone will object to me taking this on a slight tangent. Of course such a person should be disciplined. But, pertinent to PT, this discipline will not have the same basis as the one used to discipline creationist teachers. Because such a teacher has not violated the first amendment by attempting to push religion in school. He’s just been a bad teacher. So the legal justification, the authority which does the disciplining, etc… may all be different from ‘typical’ creationism.

This is important because someone like Chuck could argue that because we let local authorities (or whatever) deal with phlogiston-teaching teachers without federal intervention, why not do the same for creationism? The answer to which is: phlogiston-teaching does not violate the constitution. Creationism does. So when the locals don’t fix the problem, federal intervention is completely justifiable in the latter case where it may not be justifiable in the former case.

eric said:

This is important because someone like Chuck could argue that because we let local authorities (or whatever) deal with phlogiston-teaching teachers without federal intervention, why not do the same for creationism? The answer to which is: phlogiston-teaching does not violate the constitution. Creationism does. So when the locals don’t fix the problem, federal intervention is completely justifiable in the latter case where it may not be justifiable in the former case.

ID/creationism is also national in scope; it always has been. It was conceived and implemented by fundamentalists determined to push their sectarian doctrines into the public school.

They had hundreds of meetings and strategy sessions among themselves to find ways to slip around the law, to confuse terminology, to build a plausible-sounding pseudo-science, and to establish sectarian organizations such at the ICR, the DI, and AIG.

Duane Gish quit his job at the Upjohn Company to join Henry Morris in building ICR and put together a bunch of debating points that they could use to taunt scientists into campus debates.

There was nothing accidental about the occurrence of ID/creationism. It was a deliberate and well-coordinated attack on the public schools nationally; and it had in its strategy from the very beginning the objective of being declared legal by the courts.

There was no way local school districts could have been prepared for such a blitz; and there was no way the blitz could be dealt with locally without some coordination and information that was derived from a perspective that included the entire country.

The National Center for Science Education was crucial in this battle; as was the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on January 8, 2011 10:23 AM.

The 1981 Miller-Morris Debate was the previous entry in this blog.

Freshwater (Updated): Summary of the referee’s recommendation is the next entry in this blog.

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