Report says Ohio Teacher Burned “Crosses” on Students’ Arms

An outside investigation concludes that a popular Mount Vernon public school teacher taught creationism in his science class and was insubordinate for failing to remove a Bible from his classroom. The report about Mount Vernon Middle School teacher John Freshwater was discussed Friday during a special meeting of the local board of education.

John Freshwater has taught eighth grade science for 21 years at Mount Vernon Middle School. He first gained media attention in late April for refusing to remove the Bible from his classroom desk.

The report released Thursday quotes several students describing Freshwater as “a great guy” and “their favorite teacher.” But it also says he used an electrical device to burn the image of a cross on the arms of several students. The teacher claimed he meant the marks to be an “x.” One family has filed a federal lawsuit against Freshwater and the school district saying their child was left with a burn mark for three or four weeks.

Freshwater was also found to have taught materials of a religious nature to students including creationism and calling the theory of evolution into question. Mount Vernon’s Director of Teaching and Learning Lynda Weston says she’s had to deal with internal and external complaints about Freshwater’s failures to follow the curriculum for much of her 11 years at the school.

The investigators say Freshwater gave extra credit to students who viewed the film Expelled which discusses intelligent design. And he was found to have prayed during Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings in violation of the district’s legal obligations.

A call Friday afternoon to the Mount Vernon superintendent’s office was not immediately returned.

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