Doe v. Mount Vernon Board of Education et al.

(Full Title: Doe et al. v. Mount Vernon City School District Board Of Education et al.)

On June 13, 2008, the "Doe" (pseudonym) family filed suit against the Board of Education of the Mount Vernon City School District, Ohio; against the district's superintendent and the principal of Mount Vernon City School; and against John Freshwater, their son's eighth-grade science teacher at the aforementioned school.

In its complaint, the Doe family claimed that Freshwater had proselytized in class, displayed religious material (which was not for his personal use) in the classroom, attacked evolution and taught intelligent design, and branded students with a Tesla coil; James Doe had received a painful brand on his arm in the shape of a cross. The Does also claimed that Freshwater had led prayer sessions for a Christian student club, and had violated various other administrative policies. When the Does complained to the principal and district administration, the latter did not take action to correct Freshwater's behavior or to prevent retaliation against their son. The Does' suit charges the defendants with violating the Establishment Clause and their right to free speech.

Shortly after the filing of this suit, the Board voted to terminate Freshwater's employment. Freshwater appealed, and an administrative hearing on the termination decision is currently underway. Freshwater filed a counterclaim in this suit against the Does on September 2, 2008, and filed his own lawsuit against the school district and associated persons in June 2009. The Doe family agreed to testify in the termination hearing under their true names, making their identities public, and voluntarily lifted the protective order keeping their identities secret. The Protective Order remains in place with respect to the identity of all minors other than James Doe.

On August 26, 2010, the Board agreed to a settlement with the Dennis family (who originally filed suit under the pseudonym "Doe"). The public terms of this settlement gave the Dennis Family $115,000 for legal costs, awarded $5,500 to the son, and $1 each to the parents.

On November 23, 2010, John Freshwater agreed to a settlement with the Dennis family. $25,000 was awarded for attorney's fees, $150,000 was awarded to the son, and $300,000 awarded to the parents.

On December 3, 2010, the judge presiding over the case approved the above settlement of $475,000 to the Dennis family.

Key legal documents for this case are provided at the bottom of this page. They are arranged in chronological order.

Related NCSE Articles

News: Creationist teacher sued in Ohio

News: Creationist teacher in Ohio to be fired

News: Hearing scheduled for creationist teacher's appeal in Ohio

News: Partial settlement in Freshwater case

News: Settlement in Freshwater case imminent

News: Settlement in Freshwater case

News: Settlement in Freshwater case final

Related Off-Site Material

Extensive blog coverage at The Panda's Thumb, including Richard Hoppe's day-by-day accounts of Freshwater's termination hearing

Coverage of the Freshwater Controversy at the Mount Vernon News

Mount Vernon News: School board resolves federal lawsuit

Coverage of the Freshwater case at the Columbus Dispatch. See the "Read the Report" and "Web Extras" sections of this page for district documents relevant to the case.

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