Freshwater files Notice of Appeal (Updated already!)

| 137 Comments

See update at the end of the post.

John Freshwater, the Mt. Vernon, Ohio, middle school science teacher recently terminated by the Board of Education, has filed a Notice of Appeal (search by name for “Freshwater”) in the Knox County Court of Common Pleas. A Notice of Appeal is just that: It notifies the court (and public) that the plaintiff intends to appeal a decision of some other body to that court–it essentially reserves the option to file an appeal but does not require filing. Thereafter the plaintiff has a set period, typically 20 or 30 days (though I don’t know if teacher terminations have a different deadline), to file the appeal document itself detailing the respects in which the decision being appealed was allegedly faulty and therefore warrants overturning by the court.

Freshwater was terminated on two basic grounds outlined by the administrative hearing referee in his final report, violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution by teaching creationism and advocating for his fundamentalist Christian beliefs in school, and insubordination.

Freshwater filed the Notice of Appeal pro se, meaning that he is acting as his own attorney in the action. I have no information on whether he will seek professional legal advice in preparing the actual appeal document.

I do not presently have links to copies of the documents Freshwater submitted with the Notice of Appeal except for Hamilton’s final brief, which is the Closing Statement Brief (4Mb PDF). The most interesting documents appear to be “Complaint Filed with Resolution”, “Letter,” “John Freshwater’s Reply Brief to the Employer’s Post-Hearing Brief,” and “John Freshwater’s Closing Statement Brief.” As much as I can obtain will all be online soon on the relevant NCSE page.

If the Court of Common Pleas denies the appeal, the next (and last!) step would be for Freshwater to appeal that rejection to the state appellate court.

=======================

Update: I heard late this afternoon that Freshwater has gone ahead and actually filed his appeal, including the various documents and thousands of pages of the hearing transcript. I hope to have more information tomorrow.

137 Comments

This is starting to sound familiar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKhEw7nD9C4

Freshwater made a very costly mistake, it’s time for him to get on with his life. If Freshwater is lucky his appeal will be denied and he can look for a job teaching “science” at a private school that condones his teaching methods. Even though he did this to himself, I can’t help feeling sorry for Freshwater. In the end all the support he thought he had dried up and now he is destroyed financially because he believed Hamilton.

Freshwater, grief that keeps on giving… Thanks for keeping us updated, Richard.

dpr

J. Biggs said: In the end all the support he thought he had dried up and now he is destroyed financially because he believed Hamilton.

Don’t forget his other two main advisers, his pastor Don Matolyak and “Coach” Dave Daubenmire. They bear just as much responsibility as Hamilton. In the end, of course, Freshwater is responsible for his own actions, but his advisers surely contributed heavily to his decision-making once the main event began in April 2008.

Ryan Cunningham said:

This is starting to sound familiar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKhEw7nD9C4

I get a “Malformed Video ID” error, Ryan.

Ryan

I get the same.

All I can say to this appeal is O.M.G.!!!!!! This will most likely be a tragic move for John. He just doesn’t get it. How sad, how very sad.

Copy and paste the URL - it looks like some (ugh!) HTML default superscripted the letters after the 7 and truncated the link. I get some Monty Python video, which I assume is the intended link, but I can’t listen to it here.

What’s the matter, is the going rate for creationist martyrdom declining?

Is the public recognizing the cheapness of the Expelled claim, now? I’m guessing that it does, since, when one has to explain how one is a martyr, it already isn’t too convincing.

Oh, poor Freshwater, can’t teach God in public schools, can’t make a living off of crying over that fact.

Glen Davidson

I knew he was up to something because he hasn’t appeared on Glenn Beck yet.

Wow. There’s clueless, and then there’s self-destructive. Regardless of whether he’s acting alone, or proceeding on the dubious advice of someone else, you’d think he would have learned something by now. Perhaps he prayed for guidance?

He needs to check in to Gamblers Anonymous - the “one more bet will hit the jackpot” schtick isn’t going to cut it here, and is only wasting more taxpayer money on his self-indulgent fantasy.

I seem to recall suggesting that Freshwater might appeal…so I can’t say this surprises me. If he’s really going to go ahead and do it pro se…we all know that adage about the man who has himself for his lawyer, and in this case, an untrained one.

I don’t think Freshwater can imagine the world of hurt that is about to land on him.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Good grief; if this is anything like what we see on some of the religion channels on TV or when some of the local fundamental churches get up in arms about something, one can imagine the frenzied demonizing and war-painting that must be going on in Freshwater’s church about now.

They declare war, work up the congregation about being persecuted, and talk about all the evils being brought down on a poor, dear, innocent lamb; and that keeps the congregation from thinking about the fact that they just might be wrong about something.

W. H. Heydt Wrote:

I don’t think Freshwater can imagine the world of hurt that is about to land on him.

He might be trying to rally some sympathy money and publicity from the far right. After all, loser Palin quit her governorship to enter the world of weird “reality” show money. The bigger the train wreck, the more money they can make off it; provided of course that they can tap into some of those deep pockets that provide culture war funding.

Who’s paying all his legal fees? Does he have to pay the school’s legal costs?

Should a school system have to go through all this to fire an incompetent, disobedient teacher? I’m not in favor of arbitary dumping of teachers, I support tenure, but this process has been consumptive.

veritas36 said:

Who’s paying all his legal fees? Does he have to pay the school’s legal costs?

He himself is on the hook for legal fees associated with the administrative hearing and the appeal.

Should a school system have to go through all this to fire an incompetent, disobedient teacher? I’m not in favor of arbitary dumping of teachers, I support tenure, but this process has been consumptive.

Yup. The administrative hearing and this appeal will have eaten an amount equivalent to about 3% of the district’s annual budget (not counting in-kind costs of the time and effort expended by school personnel), though it’s been spread out over more than two years.

The hearing process is specified by the Ohio Revised Code, so it has to be amended (if that’s desired) by the state legislature. There have been some rumblings about doing that among legislators.

I, for one, welcome Freshwater’s appeal. He is becoming the Harold Stassen of creationism. It’s good do see him persisting in this farce. Perhaps others like him will learn something.

According the Mount Vernon News, he alleges nine things:


Breach of Contract
More “additional information” not available since the hearing
Hearing referee made errors
Allegations did not meet “burden of proof”
BOE did not allow Freshwater to object to the findings or recommentations
BOE actions were discriminatory and against public policy
BOE showed bias and “hostility toward Christianity”
Creationism and intelligent design are not religions
BOE terminated contract (this is quoted in the article) “simply because they diesire to suppress what they perceive as a Christian viewpoint.”

He’s got balls, I’ll say that.

Edited to format list–RBH

The Curmudgeon said:

I, for one, welcome Freshwater’s appeal. He is becoming the Harold Stassen of creationism. It’s good do see him persisting in this farce. Perhaps others like him will learn something.

Unfortunately, the most likely lesson taken away from this will schools and school districts not trying to fire teachers in similar situations because it takes so much time and resources to do so.

My sympathies to Richard B. Hoppe!

I shudder to think what enormities he must have wrought in his past lives to incur this Sisyphean curse in the present one.

Pierce R. Butler said: I shudder to think what enormities he must have wrought in his past lives to incur this Sisyphean curse in the present one.

If FW is trying to put the fear of the Big G into people, he’s succeeding with me, since if there’s a Hell it couldn’t be worse than this.

I have no information on whether he will seek professional legal advice in preparing the actual appeal document.

If he really wants to lose, he could invite the Thomas More Law Center folks in.

Hercules Grytpype-Thynne said: If he really wants to lose, he could invite the Thomas More Law Center folks in.

OK. I think we just went to the next lower circle of Hell.

It’s like “Bleak House” produced by the Coen brothers.

Unfortunately, the most likely lesson taken away from this will schools and school districts not trying to fire teachers in similar situations because it takes so much time and resources to do so.

This is my suspicion as well. And all this testimony has indicated that the same strategy was followed here, until Freshwater simply went too far off the local reservation, which was itself a territory arising from both administrative tolerance and religious influence. Freshwater wasn’t the only preacher in the school system, and such preaching seems to have been both accepted and expected by the community.

And that may at least partially explain Freshwater’s inability to understand that he did anything wrong. Hamilton, Matolyak and Daubenmire are, at least in Freshwater’s mind, exemplary of community standards, different from those of 20 years of school administrators and fellow teachers only in being more vocal and wanting more attention.

He may sincerely think that, sooner or later, he HAS to encounter a judge who is actually godly, accepts Jesus, keeps a bible properly on his bench, and decides on the basis of what is RIGHT, rather than what is merely legal. When he discovers otherwise, he may “learn” only that not nearly enough people in his old position practiced the One True Faith as it should be done. When GOD tells you everyone in the parade band is out of step except you, who are you going to believe? Who are you ABLE to believe?

anonymous said:

According the Mount Vernon News, he alleges nine things:

Hm. I don’t see a story there yet.

Good grief.

After all, loser Palin quit her governorship to enter the world of weird “reality” show money. The bigger the train wreck, the more money they can make off it

Yeah, what I was thinking.

He needs to have an out of wedlock baby*, preferably a cute one. Then he can appear on all the reality shows and far right Fox News shows for the next few years. And profit

*I realize he can’t have one himself, that biology thingy. No problem though, just find a teenage girl and have some sort of slip up. For obscure (to me) reasons, fundies think this sort of thing is normal.

“The bigger the train wreck, the more money they can make off it.” Something like this, in for a penny, in for a pound.

John Freshwater - Onward Christian Soldier.

It’s like the embezzler who gets away with it for decades but finally gets caught.

And his excuse?

“I’m being treated unfairly because I (and some others as well) was doing this for many years and now these terrible people all of a sudden just up and fired me! If what I was doing was so bad, why did they let me do it for so long?”

Apparently the US Constitution has nothing to do with the law in his mind.

“…No problem though, just find a teenage girl and have some sort of slip up. “

Yes, it is remarkable what a teenage girl will do these days for three stopwatches, a whistle, and $45 in cash. It’s all going exactly as planned.

John Vanko said:

John Freshwater - Onward Christian Soldier.

This seems to be one of the ways that the C.S. Lewis and John Bunyan Hero/Martyr fantasies play out in the melodramatic internal lives of many of these fundamentalists.

They constantly wail that everybody is persecuting them when their unwelcome meddling in the affairs of others is finally rebuffed.

So, no criticism is allowed. No alternative explanations allowed. Silence any discussion. We indoctrinate our children today, we no longer educate them. Scopes has come full circle, only now evolution is the only acceptable explanation and any evidence to the contrary (real or imagined) must be silenced. If everyone is so secure in their evolutionary beliefs, why can’t alternatives be examined. Let them stand or fall on the merits rather than censoring them completely. And please spare me the “there is not evidence to the contrary rhetoric,” that simply is not true.

Oh, how tiresome.

steve said:

So, no criticism is allowed. No alternative explanations allowed. Silence any discussion. We indoctrinate our children today, we no longer educate them. Scopes has come full circle, only now evolution is the only acceptable explanation and any evidence to the contrary (real or imagined) must be silenced. If everyone is so secure in their evolutionary beliefs, why can’t alternatives be examined. Let them stand or fall on the merits rather than censoring them completely. And please spare me the “there is not evidence to the contrary rhetoric,” that simply is not true.

No Steve. Criticism is absolutely allowed. Feel free to criticize creationism in every tax free church you want. Discussion isn’t silenced, you can discuss evolution in any church you want to as well. Indoctrination? No, you don’t have to do that in your church if you don’t want to. Evidence to the contrary? Sure, go right ahead, present the evidence for evolution in your church as well. No evolutionary biologist will try to stop you, I promise. If you are so secure in your religious beliefs, why don’t you tell everyone in your church about the real evidence for evolution? Let their beliefs stand or fall based on the real evidence.

What, you don’t think that it’s appropriate to discuss science in church? Well, now you get it.

Freshwater is screwed. He screwed himself. Whining about it isn’t going to change anything.

I think steve’s complaint is common enough to address with a bit less contempt:

So, no criticism is allowed.

In science class, scientific criticism is allowed. In high school, students are not expected to understand issues at the very cutting edge of research; they are presented with the broad outlines of the evidence collected over 150 years. As a rule, NONE of the science presented in high school is advanced enough for genuine scientific uncertainty to be meaningful.

As an example, gravity is presented in high school as a fact, just as evolution is. But what is the underlying mechanism of gravity? What exactly causes mass? These are real issues, but far beyond the high school level.

No alternative explanations allowed. Silence any discussion.

Yes and no. At the elementary high-school level, there ARE no scientific alternative explanations. So discussion about such alternatives doesn’t happen in high school. The only “alternatives” understandable to high school students are religious objections, and science classes are not the place to discuss religious objections.

We indoctrinate our children today, we no longer educate them.

This has in fact always been the case. Children are simply not capable of the level of understanding known to practicing scientists. So in childhood, we tell children those things commonly understood to be true, much as we tell them what’s good to eat without trying to “educate” them with advanced courses in nutrition. We TRAIN children not to touch hot stoves, until they are old enough so that the “education” of putting their hand on one is no longer a necessity in order to learn.

But as children grow older, the sophistication of the material they’re exposed to increases, in depth and detail and interrelationship with other materials. Education must be age-appropriate.

Scopes has come full circle, only now evolution is the only acceptable explanation and any evidence to the contrary (real or imagined) must be silenced.

Not so. Evolution is taught as the only acceptable explanation at the high school level because there simply ARE no scientific alternative explanations. We do not teach the “magic fairy dust” explanation because there isn’t any evidence for it.

Seriously, if any good, solid, testable, predictive alternatives had ever been discovered, these would have become folded into the basic theory. At the high school level of understanding, there simply ARE no valid alternatives.

If everyone is so secure in their evolutionary beliefs, why can’t alternatives be examined. Let them stand or fall on the merits rather than censoring them completely.

But this is EXACTLY what has happened! A great many alternatives have been proposed over the decades, and each of them has been rigorously tested, and those that passed the tests have been included. Those that failed have been discarded. If anyone should come up with ANY genuine merits (those that pass scientific tests) for any alternative, these would be presented.

And please spare me the “there is not evidence to the contrary rhetoric,” that simply is not true.

While many people make this claim, NOT ONE has EVER been able to produce any valid scientific evidence to back it up. If anyone ever does, it will be recognized, studied, and understood.

(As a footnote, the Templeton Foundation offered a million dollar research grant to anyone capable of even SUGGESTING A VALID PROGRAM to investigate religious objections to evolution scientifically. They didn’t even necessarily need to DO the research, only suggest how it might be done. So far, there have been no takers. So where is all this evidence?)

steve said:

So, no criticism is allowed. No alternative explanations allowed. Silence any discussion. We indoctrinate our children today, we no longer educate them. Scopes has come full circle, only now evolution is the only acceptable explanation and any evidence to the contrary (real or imagined) must be silenced. If everyone is so secure in their evolutionary beliefs, why can’t alternatives be examined. Let them stand or fall on the merits rather than censoring them completely. And please spare me the “there is not evidence to the contrary rhetoric,” that simply is not true.

You seem to be another person who has never learned about the history of the intelligent design/creationist political movement.

If you go to the National Center for Science Education website and read through these court cases it might become crystal clear for you.

And here is a compilation of all of the behaviors this movement has engaged in over a period of something like 50 years. Many posting here have been eye-witnesses to this behavior.

You might want to ask yourself if this is the kind of political movement you would like to be associated with.

What’s ironic is, steve is regurgitating almost verbatim something he has memorized, that has been indoctrinated into him. None of which has been subjected to the slightest thought, much less question. He stands as the perfect illustration of exactly what he claims to object to - except of course the entire substance of his post is encoded.

And when decoded, there turns out to be nothing in there about evidence (whatever that is), or alternatives, or even silencing. It decodes to Goddidit. Praise Jeezus. Goddidit. Praise Jeezus. Goddidit. Praise Jeezus.

And we all ought to understand this by now. Imagine if science class consisted of nothing but memorizing selected bible verses between prayers. Do you suppose steve would be complaining about the lack of scientific alternatives, or lack of any criticism? Would he be questioning his beliefs, or demanding evidence?

steve said:

…If everyone is so secure in their evolutionary beliefs, why can’t alternatives be examined.

The alternatives have been examined.

Let them stand or fall on the merits rather than censoring them completely.

And these alternatives have fallen: that is why they do not need repeating beyond a footnote or two.

And please spare me the “there is not evidence to the contrary rhetoric,” that simply is not true.

And yet, you haven’t bothered to provide any evidence to the contrary of evolution. So, are you a hypocrite, or do you just like wasting people’s time whining?

And yet, you haven’t bothered to provide any evidence to the contrary of evolution.

Right here is where we fail to communicate. There is scientific evidence, of which there is none. And there is religious evidence, which consists of SAYING something is true and sincerely believing it.

In the scientific world, as Einstein noted, it doesn’t matter if only one single objection is raised, IF it’s valid. But in the religious world, the validity of an objective DIRECTLY IS the number of people raising it. Kind of like voting - if the overwhelming majority WANTS something to come true, that MAKES it true. Which is why politics is the natural habitat of the creationist, who couldn’t understand scientific evidence even if staying out of hell depended on it.

Scientists take their authority from reality, as determined by tests. Creationists take their authority from people who say what they like to hear. If enough of them say it, the religious evidence becomes incontrovertible.

After all, surely nobody believes that the steves of the world are asking for scientific alternatives to be presented. No creationist has evern been able to even suggest such an alternative. Their ONLY suggested alternative is GODDIDIT, expressed in as many different ways as they can encode.

Flint said:

Kind of like voting - if the overwhelming majority WANTS something to come true, that MAKES it true. Which is why politics is the natural habitat of the creationist, who couldn’t understand scientific evidence even if staying out of hell depended on it.

So steve should be satisfied with Project Steve.

Good point. As we can speculate without too much fear of contradiction, steve here will swallow the creationist list of “scientists” as “proof” of his delusions, and reject the huge Steve-list as irrelevant. Again, I believe that by the age of seven, creationism has either set up or it hasn’t. And if it has, “evidence” is anything supporting the delusions, and anything else is not evidence. No matter how many people say so.

I shudder to think what would have happened to Freshwater if one of those supposed ‘academic freedom’ laws had been enacted in Ohio? He probably could have justified burning crosses into people’s arms. He certainly could have justified his Bible, ID literature, and teaching anti-evolution. I doubt the school district would have attempted to fire him – no matter how deserving he was to be fired!

Ted

Ted Herrlich [Enable javascript to see this email address.] http://sciencestandards.blogspot.com

wonderin said:

http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]ederal-court

and it continues.….

Yes, I just read that this morning. Ughhhhh!

“Accountability in the Media” blog (a staunch Freshwater supporter) has a little more info and lot of spin:

http://www.accountabilityinthemedia[…]without.html

Unless Freshwater drops his appeal, he’s going to FEDERAL Court without a lawyer! This episode will drag along another two years at least. What a glutton for punishment!

MaryM said:

“Accountability in the Media” blog (a staunch Freshwater supporter) has a little more info and lot of spin:

http://www.accountabilityinthemedia[…]without.html

Unless Freshwater drops his appeal, he’s going to FEDERAL Court without a lawyer! This episode will drag along another two years at least. What a glutton for punishment!

A couple of questions.…

Although this is an “appeal”, this is the first appearance of the case in a “real” court, so is Freshwater technically the plaintiff?

Is this removal to a federal court an indication that Freshwater filed in the wrong court, a move by the Board to reduce the number of appeals or a bit of manoeuvering for advantage?

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