Freshwater: ODE Punts with Letter of Admonishment

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The Ohio Department of Education (ODE) has issued a Letter of Admonishment to John Freshwater. In the March 22, 2011, letter that I obtained via a Public Records Request, ODE’s Office of Professional Conduct said “[T]he Department determined that you used poor judgment when you permitted students to volunteer to touch a live Tesla coil which resulted in an injury to a student. In mitigation, you ceased the use of the Tesla coil and removed it from your classroom.” It further said that “[Y]ou are admonished that if you engage in any further conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession, including further violations of Revised Code 3319.31, the State Board may initiate disciplinary proceedings to revoke, limit or suspend your teaching credential(s).” A copy of the Letter of Admonishment goes in Freshwater’s ODE file.

It appears that no other state sanction will occur. Freshwater’s teaching certificate expired in 2010 and according to the Letter of Admonishment he has applied to the ODE Office of Educator Licensure for a five-year professional high school teaching license. The letter says that the application will be granted: “Your pending application will be forwarded to the Office of Educator Licensure for issuance of your teaching credential.”

ODE’s letter does not mention the administrative hearing findings that led to Freshwater’s termination–his violation of the Establishment Clause and insubordination–and refers only tangentially to his teaching creationism, saying “The allegations that you did not follow the curriculum are employment related and are addressed at that level.” In other words, ODE doesn’t consider insubordination and teaching creationism to be “immoral, incompetent, negligent” or “conduct unbecoming to the teaching profession,” the statutory standards it supposedly enforces via its disciplinary and licensing procedures.

ODE punted. It had access to all the evidence and testimony of the administrative hearing along with the referee’s recommendation for termination and it punted on third and short.

AFAIK (I’ve been out of service for some weeks) Freshwater’s appeal of his termination by the Mt. Vernon Board of Education is still pending in federal court, it having been transferred there from the Knox County Court of Common Pleas. The federal judge has asked for briefs concerning the appropriate venue for the appeal.

48 Comments

RBH, do you think it’s likely that this punt is a consequence of the change in administration in Columbus?

That’s it? A Letter of Admonishment? They could have done that 2 years ago and saved a lot of money. Someone has some explaining to do.

Sounds very similar to the sorts of decisions the DI works so hard to elect people to make.

I’m not particularly surprised. Call me cynical but it sounds like the willingness of educational organizations to revoke licenses for bad behavior is on par with medical and legal organizations’ willingness to revoke their particular types of licenses.

Side note: RBH I think you double-posted to PT. Your article appears twice on my browser (Explorer).

What is more sickening than this for me, as somebody who lives in this community, is that our levy failed last fall – in large part thanks to John Freshwater’s war on our school system and superintendent. Many religious residents blamed the school board members and thought it was their fault the hearing went on so long and that the district spent money on it. The superintendent has said, as I understand it, that legal costs amounted to $300,000 over 3 years in a $32 million budget. Yet the publicity around these events caused people to vote down the levy, and so now cuts must be made.

On Friday, at my daughter’s elementary school, I watched as our beloved art teacher was let go. A new teacher, she was teaching kids about Mondrian and color and many other things (not just phoning it in gluing macaroni to paper or something). I hope she won’t resent my saying she left the building that morning in tears. I sure don’t blame her. Her job was the first (that I learned of) of many hard cuts our district will continue to undergo, thanks in part to John Freshwater. (Get out and vote for the levy this spring, anybody local who’s reading!!)

Re Governor Kasich, his cuts will make things worse, but I doubt he’s paying that much attention to Freshwater. Local folks sure are, though, and many side with him. This disaster has already cost me and my kids our art teacher. Those are the stakes in these disputes with creationists.

Sigh.

America is undergoing fundamental(ist) changes under the current Republican dominated legislatures and governerships. This will filter down all levels throughout the states as we are witnessing. In the case of Ohio, it is but one of 4 states currently crying budgetary problems require reduced public educational funding, yet they are conveniently able to find funds for private and parochial schools within their faultering budgets:(http://blog.au.org/2011/03/25/starv[…]-on-homepage). Education and science are under attack in this country like never before.

This appeared today in The Mount Vernon News. The local board of education is seeking the dismissal of Freshwater’s appeal.

http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]water-appeal

I’m not particularly surprised. Call me cynical but it sounds like the willingness of educational organizations to revoke licenses for bad behavior is on par with medical and legal organizations’ willingness to revoke their particular types of licenses

I think that this is outrageous and reflects entirely on the politics of Ohio, and that there is no reason to bring the medical community into it.

I don’t practice medicine currently, but I’m biased here and concede it. Normally, outright revoking someone’s professional license should be a last resort. You don’t revoke a license as a punishment. There are other mechanisms for that. You revoke a license when they present a danger to the community.

Here, for a teacher, that standard has been met, massively. This is a teacher who violated constitutional rights and doesn’t give a damn. He cause a great deal of misery and expense in one small school district, and he’ll do the same thing again if he gets another job. We can debate how severe the actual injury he caused was, but it was inappropriate.

What’s absolutely, bitterly ironic about this is that Ohio is one of the states that is attacking teachers on every level. Yet actual nefarious behavior is not punished.

I would not be surprised if the hard right administration has created an atmosphere in which this was facilitated. In South Carolina, a successful, conservative business woman who had donated 20 million dollars to the USC business school and was credited with helping it achieve a high ranking was yanked off the board of trustees and replaced with an unqualified man. She was guilty of being a conservative, pro-business Democrat. That’s the way they play.

A friend of mine has a saying, “anything for a flat tax”. He uses it to refer to people who claim to value their rights and dignity, but vote for authoritarians and theocrats.

Does it mean he is going to get his job back? Or his firing is a separate issue?

The superindentent of the ODE was appointed in 2008 by Ted Strickland, a Democrat. Deborah Delisle has spent her entire career in education.

http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/Templ[…].aspx?page=1

Gabriel Hanna -

True; the status of the current Ohio government could be a coincidence. Or someone appointed by a Democrat might still be worried about repercussions.

One thing we can certainly say is that it wouldn’t have hurt to have a strong pro-science, pro-education, anti-theocracy governor, Democrat, Republican, or otherwise, and they don’t have that in Ohio.

We can also say that a teacher with an extreme pattern of inappropriate religious preaching, resulting in lawsuits and termination, ought to at least have a review, suspended license, license renewed but with special conditions, etc, at least from a layman’s perspective.

harold said:

Gabriel Hanna -

True; the status of the current Ohio government could be a coincidence. Or someone appointed by a Democrat might still be worried about repercussions.

One thing we can certainly say is that it wouldn’t have hurt to have a strong pro-science, pro-education, anti-theocracy governor, Democrat, Republican, or otherwise, and they don’t have that in Ohio.

We can also say that a teacher with an extreme pattern of inappropriate religious preaching, resulting in lawsuits and termination, ought to at least have a review, suspended license, license renewed but with special conditions, etc, at least from a layman’s perspective.

Alternative, harold, we could say that Freshwater’s hearing was provided over by career education bureaucrats, which the preponderance of evidence would favor, and then we wouldn’t have to postulate a shadowy network of sekrit creationist influense. Because all over the country teachers who have done worse than Freshwater have taken just as long or longer to fire, and not lost their licenses, because the educational system takes care of its own.

Wouldn’t have hurt the cause of punishing Freshwater to have Democrats in charge of all levels of Ohio government, but it would not have helped.

Alternative, harold, we could say that Freshwater’s hearing was provided over by career education bureaucrats,

The hearing found for termination. The referee was not from the Department of Education. The hearing was a termination hearing and did not have the mandate to do anything about Freshwater’s license; it was about his job at Mount Vernon.

which the preponderance of evidence would favor, and then we wouldn’t have to postulate a shadowy network of sekrit creationist influense.

No-one has postulated anything of the sort. It has been suggested that members of the Department of Education might have been nervous about sanctioning Freshwater because the governor is a pro-fundamentalist Republican. And no-one has presented this as a fact, it has been a speculation.

Because all over the country teachers who have done worse than Freshwater have taken just as long or longer to fire, and not lost their licenses,

Can you cite a few examples?

because the educational system takes care of its own.

Do you have evidence to show that teachers are fired or lose their licenses less often than similarly educated and regulated professionals? I’m not saying that this isn’t the case, but do you have evidence that it is?

Wouldn’t have hurt the cause of punishing Freshwater to have Democrats in charge of all levels of Ohio government, but it would not have helped

I hope you understand that, if I criticize some behaviors of Republicans, that does not imply strong enthusiasm for the average Democratic office holder.

However, it is Republicans who pander to the religious right, and your efforts to ride to their rescue are causing you to argue, implicitly, that electing creationists, or those who pander to creationists and get votes from them, cannot make life easier for would-be creationist science teachers. That’s logically wrong. Legislatures in a number of states have been trying - so far without overwhelming success, but still, trying - to introduce new anti-evolution bills. Governors do hire and fire education department heads.

I’m sorry the party you like better is also that party that panders to and contains creationists. I’m sorry the current front-runner for your favorite party’s presidential nomination is a creationist. That must cause mental conflict. However, it is reality.

harold said:

Can you cite a few examples?

How many do you need?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/n[…]6rubber.html

Under the agreement, teachers the city is trying to fire will no longer be sent to the rubber rooms, known as reassignment centers, where the teachers show up every school day, sometimes for years, doing no work and drawing full salaries. Instead, these teachers will be assigned to administrative work or nonclassroom duties in their schools while their cases are pending. The centers have been a source of embarrassment for both the Bloomberg administration and the United Federation of Teachers, as articles in newspapers and magazines detailed teachers running businesses out of the rubber rooms or dozing off for hours on end.….After removing a teacher from the classroom, Education Department officials will have 10 days to file incompetence charges and 60 days for charges of misconduct. Any teacher not formally charged within that time will be sent back to the classroom. In more serious cases, typically when teachers are charged with a felony, education officials can suspend a teacher without pay. Under current procedures, teachers could be removed from the classroom for six months before charges are even filed, although in practice some teachers have sat in the rubber room for years without formal charges. The rubber rooms will not close until the fall, officials said, but they pledged to resolve all of the pending cases by the end of the year. While the agreement may solve the thorny public relations problems for the city and the union, it does nothing to address the more costly absent teacher reserve pool, which consists of teachers who have lost their jobs because of budget cuts or when a school is shut down for poor performance, but have not been accused of incompetence or wrongdoing. Those teachers, who number about 1,100, do not have permanent classroom jobs but draw full salaries; the city spends roughly $100 million annually on the pool.

Do you have evidence to show that teachers are fired or lose their licenses less often than similarly educated and regulated professionals? I’m not saying that this isn’t the case, but do you have evidence that it is?

Maybe if we define who is “similarly educated and regulated” we can take a crack at comparing them. Do private school teachers count? Charter schools?

I hope you understand that, if I criticize some behaviors of Republicans, that does not imply strong enthusiasm for the average Democratic office holder.…I’m sorry the party you like better is also that party that panders to and contains creationists. I’m sorry the current front-runner for your favorite party’s presidential nomination is a creationist. That must cause mental conflict. However, it is reality.

And you immediately do to me the thing you accuse me of having done to you. I am a libertarian, the Democratic party has little to offer me, now that their enthusiasm for expanded executive powers, wars in the Middle East, and prosecuting the War on Drugs have been shown by sad experience to be equal to that of the Republican party.

There are those who argue for increased accountability of teachers in puclic schools to their employers, the taxpayers. The NEA does not agree, and neither does the party to whom they donate, the Democrats.

And you immediately do to me the thing you accuse me of having done to you. I am a libertarian, the Democratic party has little to offer me, now that their enthusiasm for expanded executive powers, wars in the Middle East, and prosecuting the War on Drugs have been shown by sad experience to be equal to that of the Republican party.

Although I am most certainly not a libertarian and do consider the Democrats to be somewhat less bad than the Republicans (from my perspective), let’s end this on a note of agreement. I strongly agree with this.

harold said:

Although I am most certainly not a libertarian and do consider the Democrats to be somewhat less bad than the Republicans (from my perspective), let’s end this on a note of agreement. I strongly agree with this.

Sir, you are a doughty warrior against creationism and I am glad to have you on my side. Most of us posting here are somewhat left of center, I think, and perhaps assume that ALL of us here are or should be. Perhaps this needlessly alienates potential allies.

The protections for teachers in Ohio long predate the 2010 elections, in any rate.

Gabriel Hanna said:

The superindentent of the ODE was appointed in 2008 by Ted Strickland, a Democrat. Deborah Delisle has spent her entire career in education.

http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/Templ[…].aspx?page=1

DeLisle submitted her resignation at the March meeting of the State BOE, and Stan Heffner, who has been associate superintendent since 2004, was appointed interim State Superintendent.

CMB said:

This appeared today in The Mount Vernon News. The local board of education is seeking the dismissal of Freshwater’s appeal.

http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]water-appeal

Another MVNews story here with access to the new documents.

Gabriel Hanna said: Most of us posting here are somewhat left of center, I think, and perhaps assume that ALL of us here are or should be.

“Why did the centrist cross the road?”

“To get to the middle.”

Most of us posting here are somewhat left of center, I think, and perhaps assume that ALL of us here are or should be. Perhaps this needlessly alienates potential allies.

The protections for teachers in Ohio long predate the 2010 elections, in any rate.

I like the “quadrant” rather that linear methodology of looking at political views, although even that oversimplifies.

But basically, it divides on two axes. Individual rights/democracy versus authoritarianism is one axis.

Economic policies that aid the needy and redistribute versus policies that do not are on the other axis. (I would actually put true “laissez-faire”, if it existed, in the MIDDLE of this axis; to the right of that we see interventions to shield the rich from free markets, which are very common.)

Idi Amin was a typical example of being on the extreme “right” of both axes, Fidel Castro is a rare example of an authoritarian who literally does appear to be sincerely on the “left” economically (although leaders like this are rare the idea that this is the ideal is less rare), sincere libertarian-leaning people are on the human rights/democracy side of that axis and to the right on the economic axis, and “progressives” or whatever name you want to apply to people who are similar to me are very strongly pro-rights, pro-democracy (including implied or explicit support for considerable economic freedom in most cases), but also in favor of programs for the needy, regulations for the common good, and moderation of extreme inequality (with a strong emphasis on bringing the bottom up, not on pulling the top down).

Almost all science supporters here are on the individual rights and democracy side of the first axis.

On the economic axis, there is considerable variation, and a fair number of long standing, articulate science supporters consider themselves “conservative” on this axis. (However, it’s worth noting that much of what they support and call “conservative” is equally supported by me and could be called “liberal”, e.g. dislike of wasteful programs that benefit cronies and so on. So even here the divide may be less extreme than it seems.)

It is usually safe to assume that a given creationist is not only authoritarian (by definition), but also economically right wing; here I feel safe in generalizing. In theory a creationist authoritarian could be economically populist, and there have been figures like that in the past, but the hard right ideology of theocratic authoritarianism mixed with harsh social policies, disdain for human rights, and unfailing support for war, has been welded together very firmly now, and those who deviate from purity find themselves isolated.

We don’t see a lot of Castro types here. Left wing authoritarians have sometimes been almost as prone to science denial as right wing authoritarians.

As I have noted, before the George W. Bush administration I was friendly with libertarians, whom I regarded as strong allies on the crucial human rights/democracy axis.

Economics is an emotional subject, but I’d rather be free and have the right to express my economic opinions, than be unfree and trust an authoritarian leader to unselfishly, and without feedback from elections, manage and economy for the common good.

RBH said:

Gabriel Hanna said:

The superindentent of the ODE was appointed in 2008 by Ted Strickland, a Democrat. Deborah Delisle has spent her entire career in education.

http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/Templ[…].aspx?page=1

DeLisle submitted her resignation at the March meeting of the State BOE, and Stan Heffner, who has been associate superintendent since 2004, was appointed interim State Superintendent.

Another person who has worked for decades in education.

“Heffner began his career teaching in South Dakota where he became the state’s youngest high school principal. He later served as South Dakota’s deputy secretary of education and cultural affairs. In Ohio, he served on the local school district level since the mid-1980s, including 15 years as superintendent of the Madison Local School District in Lake County.”

harold said:

I like the “quadrant” rather that linear methodology of looking at political views, although even that oversimplifies.

But basically, it divides on two axes. Individual rights/democracy versus authoritarianism is one axis.

I’d draw the axes somewhat differently, but the real crux of our disagreement is, what constitutes an individual right? Of course we’re all for individual rights, as we define them, but a libertarian and a social democrat define them very differently.

To a libertarian, individual economic freedom is at least as important as sexual freedom, or religious freedom, or freedom of speech. And it could be argued that restrictions on individual economic freedom deserve more scrutiny than the others, because in additional to the usual motives some have for restricting the liberty of others, envy and greed may operate as well. There is little risk that laws will ever be passed that redistribute sexual partners or religious congregations or opinions.

In the desire to find common ground we have abandoned any pretense of adhering to the topic.

To a libertarian, individual economic freedom is at least as important as sexual freedom, or religious freedom, or freedom of speech

I’d hope that we could find common ground against theocrats.

I do support individual economic rights. I support private property, ability to spend your money on what you want to, ability to invest your money as you see fit, etc.

However, claiming things like complete freedom from taxation of government economic activity as “economic rights” doesn’t make sense to me (examples; I’m not saying that you made those specific claims). It may be possible for you to live an isolated life, hunting and gathering your own food. Siberia is still pretty empty. But here in America we are all richer partly because we all pay taxes. Yes, I know that things like a clean water supply, sewage system, emergency response system, law and order, near universal literacy, transportation system, steady food supply, reliable electricity, internet access, health care system, etc, could theoretically come about privately, and that some did in their earliest and crudest implementations, but there is no example on earth of a “laissez faire” society that has fully developed these. All of us have immeasurably better economic conditions because of these things.

The key word really is “prioritize”. The authoritarian can always promise tax cuts or the like, in fact, the right wing authoritarian kleptocrat usually uses terminology like “deregulation” or “privatization” to describe looting by cronies. If someone can be bribed by economic considerations into supporting authoritarianism (and that includes supporting the more authoritarian of two imperfect choices), the description “libertarian” might not be apt.

envy and greed may operate as well.

Virtually none of the social programs I support are ever likely to benefit me directly, or if they do, say, free tuition at a public university or universal health care access in the US, only as much as anyone else. So you can rule out greed.

Absolutely nothing I support would realistically reduce the lifestyle of people with even higher incomes than me, either, so you can rule out envy.

Greed and envy are natural but can become excessive. In their excessive states, though, they seldom manifest themselves as support for a well-regulated free market economy with adequate stabilizing social programs.

Just finished reading thru John Freshwater October 15, 2010 Deposition. http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]oct_2010.pdf Seems he and Hamilton share similar destruction of their laptops. Also of interest is the fact that he and Jerry Bergman corresponded thru emails. Bergman is of “Expelled” and AIG fame. Recently mentioned in Senuous Curmudgeon’s Blog. http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress[…]e-of-darwin/

Does anyone know if there are further depositions of Freshwater after October 15, 2010? That one ended the first day and left the impression that it would continue.

harold said:

I’d hope that we could find common ground against theocrats.

We have, it’s why we’re both here.

However, claiming things like complete freedom from taxation of government economic activity as “economic rights” doesn’t make sense to me… But here in America we are all richer partly because we all pay taxes.

Libertarians run the gamut all the way out to anarchy, the proverbial herd of cats, much in the same way that progressives run out to socialism and communism. Almost all libertarians agree that free markets alone cannot provide everything that society wants, and only a vanishing small percentage think there should be no government, or taxation, at all. Scientific research for example, my chosen career, is funded by government, and always has been funded by governments or private patronage.

Yes, I know that things like a clean water supply, sewage system, emergency response system, law and order, near universal literacy, transportation system, steady food supply, reliable electricity, internet access, health care system, etc, could theoretically come about privately…

As a matter of fact, all these things did historically come about privately, and not necessarily in “crude and primitive” forms. And libertarians of my stripe think that these functions are best carried out by local governments, to the extent government needs to be involved at all. We don’t need Federal departments to fix potholes, or educate children; city, county and state governments can handle these things if they can’t be left to enterprise, for some reason.

there is no example on earth of a “laissez faire” society…

Your sentence might well end where I put the ellipsis. As long as men are not angels they will need governments, only a very tiny minority of people think otherwise.

The authoritarian can always promise tax cuts or the like, in fact, the right wing authoritarian kleptocrat usually uses terminology like “deregulation” or “privatization” to describe looting by cronies. If someone can be bribed by economic considerations into supporting authoritarianism (and that includes supporting the more authoritarian of two imperfect choices), the description “libertarian” might not be apt.

Tax cuts = kleptocracy? The fruits of one’s labor and capital belong of right to the government, and it is stealing to keep them? I’d call that “authoritarian”, but as I said before, I think economic liberty is at least as important as any other kind. Another example of our fundamental disagreement on what constitutes individual rights. And while “deregulation” suggests “looting by cronies” to you, “regulation” to me suggests rent-seeking, big market players using their government connections to price smaller players out of the market. And yes, big companies DO benefit from regulations. You can ask Goldman Sachs, GE, AT&T, Microsoft, all of whom spent millions to help elect President Obama.

http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08/c[…]id=n00009638

We both are for individual rights, against kleptocracy and crony capitalism, but our differences are in what we mean by those things. We’re probably for Mom, America, and apple pie too.

Virtually none of the social programs I support are ever likely to benefit me directly, or if they do, say, free tuition at a public university or universal health care access in the US, only as much as anyone else. So you can rule out greed.

Absolutely nothing I support would realistically reduce the lifestyle of people with even higher incomes than me, either, so you can rule out envy.

That’s fantastic that you are not moved by these considerations; that you vote against what you perceive to be in your economic interest in favor of a higher principle. Millions of affluent people do, and millions of poor people vote for politicians who claim to be for less government, though sadly they fall short of those promise. People who think differently from you might like credit for voting according to their principles, instead of being accused of being bought, or too stupid to see what is in their own interest.

Perhaps we can leave this as “reasonable people with good intentions can and do disagree”.

Gabriel Hanna -

There’s not much point in arguing further; at least we agree on something.

Some corrections of apparent misrepresentations of my own views, and I will move on.

My objective here is not to persuade you to adopt my views, but rather, merely to persuade you to represent them accurately, even in the context of arguing against them.

that you vote against what you perceive to be in your economic interest in favor of a higher principle.

I perceive the construction of a false dichotomy.

Either I am motivated by “envy and greed” or “I vote against my economic interest”. Those are the two choices you have given me so far.

Neither is the case.

Short term cash maximization at all costs is not necessarily long term economic self interest (it often is but sometimes is not). I vote for the policies that I perceive best able to create a stable and humane society; in fact I perceive the marginal utility of my money to be maximized when I can spend it in the context of such a society. Naturally these terms are partly subjective. Our views of what is “humane” overlap strongly, but are not 100% the same. Note that I do not deny that my views are also compatible with high principle, but I do not consider them to be against my long term economic self-interest.

We don’t need Federal departments to fix potholes,

This represents construction of a straw man; it implies that I suggested support for federal involvement in trivial local road repair. In fact, I didn’t say anything about the road system, but the status quo is that most local road repair is handled locally. It is absurd to suggest that anything I have said implies support for federal involvement in this type of thing.

Tax cuts = kleptocracy?

This is an extreme misrepresentation of what I said.

I said, correctly, that kleptocrats (actually I said “authoritarians”, but it’s correct either way) can always claim to offer tax cuts or deregulation.

That statement is 100% correct, and is completely different from, and does not remotely resemble, the transparently false statement “tax cuts = kleptocracy”. In fact, you’ve literally made a “you said all Greeks are men therefore you believe all men are Greeks” construction here (actually it’s slightly worse, because the tax cut itself wouldn’t be what made the person offering it authoritarian).

The absurd logical extension of your construction is that I would always oppose all tax cuts, under all circumstances, and dismiss all tax cuts as “kleptocracy”. That is, of course, the opposite of the truth. In fact, any type of tax can potentially be too high, and there are many tax cuts I would support tomorrow. Just not the same ones that tend to be proposed in the current political environment.

The fruits of one’s labor and capital belong of right to the government, and it is stealing to keep them?

It really is tiresome to see straw man sound bytes like this put into my mouth. Not only did I not say this, in fact, I said the exact opposite. I stated that I support private property and economic freedom.

(*It is true that the current tax laws of the United States, which I did not personally enact and most certainly do not universally support, make it a crime not to pay one’s taxes; that crime is called tax evasion and is punished differently from larceny, i.e. “theft”. It is true that I do not oppose the general principle that tax evasion can be a crime. That is not at all the logical equivalent of saying that “everything belongs to the government”, a position I do not support.*)

I won’t trouble you with any further arguments on issues where we have subjective, normative disagreements that are unlikely to be resolved.

Please, though, argue accurately against what I say or may reasonably be inferred to believe or imply. Please do not put insulting straw man constructions into my mouth. It is in your own self-interest not to do so. Resorting to arguments against distorted straw man constructions weakens the presentation of a case.

Again, My objective here is not to persuade you to adopt my views, but rather, merely to persuade you to represent them accurately, even in the context of arguing against them.

Good luck with your research and activities against creationism.

Gabriel Hanna said: Because all over the country teachers who have done worse than Freshwater have taken just as long or longer to fire, and not lost their licenses, because the educational system takes care of its own.

Later,

To a libertarian, individual economic freedom is at least as important as sexual freedom, or religious freedom, or freedom of speech. And it could be argued that restrictions on individual economic freedom deserve more scrutiny than the others

Gabriel, if you’re an economic libetarian, shouldn’t you be arguing in favor of Freshwater’s ability to get the best package he can freely negotiate? His package simply includes rules on firing.

I do not see how you can argue in favor of placing restrictions on teachers’ ability to bargain with the state for the benefit of termination hearings, yet call yourself an economic libertarian. Economic libertarianism is not just about dollars. Doesn’t it include the freedom to negotiate nonmonetary benefits, too…including workplace rules?

CharleyHorse said:

Just finished reading thru John Freshwater October 15, 2010 Deposition. http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]oct_2010.pdf Seems he and Hamilton share similar destruction of their laptops. Also of interest is the fact that he and Jerry Bergman corresponded thru emails. Bergman is of “Expelled” and AIG fame. Recently mentioned in Senuous Curmudgeon’s Blog. http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress[…]e-of-darwin/

Does anyone know if there are further depositions of Freshwater after October 15, 2010? That one ended the first day and left the impression that it would continue.

Freshwater dropped his federal suit (which was the occasion for the deposition) against the District that night, so the deposition was rendered moot and did not continue.

And I also was struck by the loss of another computer by the Freshwater/Hamilton duo and by Freshwater’s similar failure to make even a feeble attempt (i.e., do anything more than flip the power switch) to recover any data from his dead machine.

SWT said:

RBH, do you think it’s likely that this punt is a consequence of the change in administration in Columbus?

Hard to tell, but it wouldn’t amaze me. ODE bureaucrats have been very cautious about offending the creationists on the Board since the early 2000s.

RBH, thanks for the info. That deposition was classic Freshwater. Forcing the inquisitor to ask the same question multiple times while he fumbles for a lie that he thinks will satisfy. Amazing isn’t it? How two supposedly intelligent professionals wouldn’t know how easy it can be to recover info from a HDD and they supposedly don’t even attempt to. He couldn’t remember where or how much he paid for the new laptop or where he got the money from. So wealthy that he just tosses the old laptop in the trash. Right.

What CharleyHorse said. Christ on a yeast-infected sidecar, this Freshwater gink comes off like a severe brain-damage case! “I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question you just asked, so can you repeat it, like, 3 or 5 times?”

RBH said:

CMB said:

This appeared today in The Mount Vernon News. The local board of education is seeking the dismissal of Freshwater’s appeal.

http://www.mountvernonnews.com/loca[…]water-appeal

Another MVNews story here with access to the new documents.

I read the transcript and I think I’ve been reading Groklaw too much…some things leapt out at me…

1. Ms. Moore was in a “take no prisoners” mode. As soon as Hamilton put his oar in, she shut him down.…hard. After that, Hamilton was far quieter than I would have expected of him.

2. Early on, I was mildly surprised at Moore probing where Freshwater’s money came from. That got re-visited when trying to find out how he paid for the new laptop.…money he “just happened” to have in his wallet…as if it had magically appeared. It was a bit startling when she dropped that line of questioning. I was expecting–as a way to account for the amount and source–to ask if he declared the donations on his income tax forms. If he answered “yes”, then where are his copies of the filings? If “no”, then let him twist in the breeze of having falsified the filings. Had the second day ever occurred, I suspect these issue would have come up again, as the trap was set and ready to spring.

3. Ross appeared to be the anvil to go with Moore’s hammer. His repeated “Objection. Non-responsive. Move to strike.” cut off a great deal of potential waffling.

4. Moore’s threats to take it to the magistrate judge appeared to be pretty effective.

5. Hamilton’s “few minutes” to consult with his client took THREE HOURS. Much was probably said and I suspect that neither Hamilton nor Freshwater was very happy by the end of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s when the decision to drop the case was made. My guess was that Hamilton had to convince Freshwater and that it was to save Hamilton’s hide, not Freshwater’s.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

I had “My Name Is Earl” playing part of the time I was reading the transcript. Couldn’t help but imagine JF’s lines were being spoken by Randy and imagined Hamilton as Earl. A lot of similarities.

JF brought his Bible with him to the depo. At one point he mentioned picking apples and stump grinding.…Damn I wanted Moore to ask if he had his Bible with him during those times.

Ughhhhhh! This story is never going to end.

seabiscuit said:

Ughhhhhh! This story is never going to end.

Did you notice that Freshwater has also filed complaints with the Ohio Equal Opportunity Commission and the federal EEOC? Those complaints are included as addenda to one or another of the documents linked from the Mt. Vernon News March 31 story. I don’t now recall which and my netbook where they’re stashed isn’t with me at the moment.

Did you notice that Freshwater has also filed complaints with the Ohio Equal Opportunity Commission and the federal EEOC?

So he’s claiming that there is discrimination against stupid people when it comes to getting teaching jobs? Huh. Who’d have thought it.

Ughhhhhh! This story is never going to end.

Yeah, this Freshwater fiasco has gotten rather stale.

Henry J said:

Did you notice that Freshwater has also filed complaints with the Ohio Equal Opportunity Commission and the federal EEOC?

So he’s claiming that there is discrimination against stupid people when it comes to getting teaching jobs? Huh. Who’d have thought it.

Ughhhhhh! This story is never going to end.

Yeah, this Freshwater fiasco has gotten rather stale.

Stagnantwater?

–W. H. Heydt

Old used Programmer

And he was a TEACHER???? Poor kids!

Yes, I saw that story. I can get the News e-Edition article but can’t find the link for the article that anyone can view.

RBH said:

seabiscuit said:

Ughhhhhh! This story is never going to end.

Did you notice that Freshwater has also filed complaints with the Ohio Equal Opportunity Commission and the federal EEOC? Those complaints are included as addenda to one or another of the documents linked from the Mt. Vernon News March 31 story. I don’t now recall which and my netbook where they’re stashed isn’t with me at the moment.

My last comment was in response to this. I should have quoted this first. Oops!

wgwII said:

And he was a TEACHER???? Poor kids!

According the ODE, as cited in this thread, the operative statemnet would be “he IS a teacher.” I agree with the rest of the sentiment, though.

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

seabiscuit said:

Yes, I saw that story. I can get the News e-Edition article but can’t find the link for the article that anyone can view.

Here. The complaint to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission is the last page of the Defense brief linked there. I see the Ohio (it’s a state agency, not the federal agency) EEOC complaint is not appended, but is mentioned on page 11 of the Defendants’ brief.

John said:

What is more sickening than this for me, as somebody who lives in this community, is that our levy failed last fall – in large part thanks to John Freshwater’s war on our school system and superintendent. Many religious residents blamed the school board members and thought it was their fault the hearing went on so long and that the district spent money on it. The superintendent has said, as I understand it, that legal costs amounted to $300,000 over 3 years in a $32 million budget. Yet the publicity around these events caused people to vote down the levy, and so now cuts must be made.

On Friday, at my daughter’s elementary school, I watched as our beloved art teacher was let go. A new teacher, she was teaching kids about Mondrian and color and many other things (not just phoning it in gluing macaroni to paper or something). I hope she won’t resent my saying she left the building that morning in tears. I sure don’t blame her. Her job was the first (that I learned of) of many hard cuts our district will continue to undergo, thanks in part to John Freshwater. (Get out and vote for the levy this spring, anybody local who’s reading!!)

Re Governor Kasich, his cuts will make things worse, but I doubt he’s paying that much attention to Freshwater. Local folks sure are, though, and many side with him. This disaster has already cost me and my kids our art teacher. Those are the stakes in these disputes with creationists.

Ditto. I’m in MtV too and I’m sure some of the teachers who see my kids are on the list of RIFfed; my kids more than likely by your desciption have the same art teacher. Makes me sick to my stomach that in the 4 years we’ve lived here we’ve watched cut after cut after cut made to programs within the schools with many laying on the shoulders of Mr. Freshwater and his circle of advisors who believe they’re being presecuted on the basis of Christianity in a town where there’s a church on nearly every corner. (I say this all as an every Sunday morning church goer.)

I love Mt. Vernon. We chose to move here with our children for the small town and the strong school system. Between Mr. Freshwater’s misguided attempts to justify his actions causing a $1 million fiasco (by state law and not union membership as is was not and is not a member of the union), people blaming the school board for this cost, and now Gov. Kasich’s idea that cutting K-12, public school funding is the way to make the future better, all I can do is shake my head in disbelief.

My youngest is 3 … hope she’ll start kindergarten with this story being over. Of course, I said that about my middle child too.

According to Knoxpages.com Federal District Judge Gregory Frost has remanded Freshwater’s appeal of his termination back to the Court of Common Pleas in Knox County. I can see Common Pleas Judge Eyster turning cartwheels now! :)

The remand order is linked to from here (the 5-4-2011 update).

RBH said:

According to Knoxpages.com Federal District Judge Gregory Frost has remanded Freshwater’s appeal of his termination back to the Court of Common Pleas in Knox County. I can see Common Pleas Judge Eyster turning cartwheels now! :)

The remand order is linked to from here (the 5-4-2011 update).

Gosh…what do you know… Freshwater will have to follow procedure…who’d a thunk it?

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

W. H. Heydt said: Gosh…what do you know… Freshwater will have to follow procedure…who’d a thunk it?

–W. H. Heydt

Old Used Programmer

Bear in mind that it was the Board’s (insurance company) lawyer who moved to have the case transferred to the federal court, on the general strategy of then arguing that Freshwater had already conceded the case by the dismissal with prejudice of his earlier federal suit (the dismissal being at Freshwater’s request).

This now returns it to the state court system, the bottom rung of which is the county Court of Common Pleas. Hence Judge Eyster’s non-jubilation. I’m pretty sure he wishes it would go away.

Well, well.… Rutherford Institute agrees to take Freshwater’s case

By ADAM TAYLOR KnoxPages Managing Editor

MOUNT VERNON – Former eighth-grade science teacher John Freshwater’s legal defense now rests in the hands of a non-profit civil liberties organization.

The Rutherford Institute announced that it will defend Freshwater in his bid to appeal the Mount Vernon City School District’s decision to fire him. Founded in 1982, the organization specializes in defending religious and civil liberties, according to its website.

Freshwater’s appeal was transferred back to Knox County Common Pleas Court last week. A federal judge said a state law gives jurisdiction for the local court to hear the case, despite claims that Freshwater’s constitutional rights were violated.

Attorney John Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, said in a news release that the right of public school teachers to “academic freedom is the bedrock of American education.”

‘What we need today are more teachers and school administrators who understand that young people don’t need to be indoctrinated,” he wrote. “Rather, they need to be taught how to think for themselves.”

The Mount Vernon City School Board voted recently to terminate Freshwater after a state hearing officer found probable cause to belief Freshwater pushed his Christian viewpoints on his students.

http://knoxpages.com/

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on March 30, 2011 1:10 PM.

Reminder: Phyloseminar (Wed 3/30): Making comparative methods as easy as ABC was the previous entry in this blog.

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