John Freshwater, the Ohio teacher fired for allegedly burning crosses into student’s arm, dropped his 2009 lawsuit against the Mount Vernon City school district on Thursday.
Freshwater, a two-time teacher of the year award recipient, said he was a victim of a firing witch hunt because he refused to remove his Bible from his desk. He filed a million-dollar lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Columbus for lost pay and pension, and punitive damages. He argued that his rights to free speech were violated. He also wanted to be re-instated to his position as an eighth grade teacher.
Yesterday, however, Freshwater’s attorneys filed paperwork dismissing the case.
Sarah Moore, the attorney for the school district, confirmed the case had been dropped. No explanation has been given, but Moore said she wasn’t surprised.
“This dismissal, from our end, was expected. It speaks to the fact this lawsuit has no basis in fact or in law,” she remarked.
Last year, the case made national headlines after Freshwater was accused of burning crosses into students’ arms. Freshwater, a science teacher, said the “crosses” were part of an experiment demonstrating static electricity on the hands of volunteers. The crosses, he said, were in fact Xs, and the experiment was harmless.
“Parents did not go the police and didn’t file a criminal complaint,” said Freshwater. Furthermore, he said he had done the experiment for 20 years.
In a statement last year, Freshwater said he believed he was fired because he kept a Bible on his desk. The year before his removal, Freshwater was asked to take down a tapestry of Ten Commandments and hide his Bible from plain sight. He removed the tapestry, but was adamant about resting his Bible on the desk.
“The removal of [the Bible] will be nothing short of the infringement of my deeply-held religious beliefs,” he said.
At the time, the Mt. Vernon City School Board released this statement: “As a public school system, the district cannot teach, promote or favor any religion or religious beliefs.”
District officials later accused Freshwater of also teaching students about Creationism. Freshwater, in response, denied ever preaching about his religious beliefs in class.
David Daubenmire, a spokesman for Freshwater, said that he believes the charges against Freshwater were all motivated out of bias and prejudice. Freshwater became a teacher in 1987 and taught science for 20 years. He was a science teacher at Mt. Vernon Middle School.