Knox County Common Pleas Judge Otho Eyster said in his two-page ruling Wednesday that he found clear and convincing evidence that the Mount Vernon school board was right in dismissing John Freshwater early this year.
The school board in the community about 40 miles northeast of Columbus first tried to dismiss Freshwater in 2008 after investigators reported that he preached Christian beliefs in class when discussing topics such as evolution and homosexuality, and was insubordinate in failing to remove a Bible from his classroom.
Freshwater appealed to an outside referee, a state hearing officer, utilizing a right of teachers facing firing in Ohio. The hearing officer recommended in January that Freshwater’s contract be terminated, and the school board formally fired him within days.
The Rutherford Institute is a Charlottesville, Virginia-based civil liberties group which has been involved in the case. Attorney and institute president John Whitehead said Freshwater has 30 days to file an appeal and said his group is ready to move in that direction.
“The lower courts are very difficult to get by because they do uphold local school boards almost unanimously,” Whitehead said. “We’ll have a better chance in an appeals court which will have more distance away from the school board and the local community.”
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