Photo released by Mt. Vernon, Ohio, School District as part of its investigation shows a "brand" mark on the arm of a student
The Ohio Department of Education is rescinding a "letter of admonishment" from the record of a Christian teacher who was fired for integrating his beliefs in the classroom, according to a report.
The state agency also is looking into the Rutherford Institute's charges that the due process rights of the teacher, John Freshwater, were violated and Education Department regulations were broken. The institute said Freshwater was not notified properly, nor was he given the opportunity to defend himself.
WND has reported on Freshwater's fight several times, including when the Rutherford Institute decided to join the case involving the Ohio teacher who was fired after he kept a Bible on his desk and suggested that students "think critically about the school's science curriculum, particularly as it relates to evolution theories."
Freshwater, a 24-year veteran in the classroom, was suspended in 2008 by the Mount Vernon School District in Mount Vernon, Ohio.
One of the early allegations was that he "branded" students with a scientific machine called a Tesla coil that demonstrates electrical current.
However, Dave Daubenmire, who served as a spokesman for the teacher, said the "cross branding" was nothing of the sort. He characterized it as a science experiment Freshwater had been conducting for 21 years in which he made X marks, not crosses, on the students' skin in the demonstration.
Daubenmire pointed out experts have affirmed the experiment causes no injury to students.
The Rutherford Institute's president, John Whitehead, said, "I'm pleased that the Ohio Department of Education has decided to step back and review this situation. The right to basic due process – especially the right to defend oneself against charges – is too important to be short-circuited by any government agency."
Freshwater ultimately was fired by the Mount Vernon board in January on allegations he injected religion into the classroom by giving students "reason to doubt the accuracy and or veracity of scientists, science textbooks and/or science in general."
Throughout his career at Mount Vernon Middle School, Freshwater never received a negative performance evaluation. In fact, showing their support for Freshwater, students even organized a rally on his behalf. They also wore T-shirts with crosses painted on them to school and carried Bibles to class.
The state agency issued its letter in March "based on charges that a student was injured after Freshwater ... permitted students to touch a live Tesla coil."
But Rutherford Institute attorneys pointed out the administrator who investigated the initial incident ultimately concluded that the allegations had been overblown and that there was "a plausible explanation for how and why the Tesla coil had been used by John Freshwater."
The institute is helping Freshwater appeal his termination in state court.