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Hearing begins for teacher in Bible row

Oct. 3, 2008 at 1:55 AM

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A hearing began Thursday for a controversial Ohio teacher who could lose his job for bringing his religious beliefs into the classroom.

The dispute began in April when John Freshwater, who has been a middle school science teacher in Mount Vernon since 1987, refused to remove a Bible from his desk. Freshwater is alleged to have used a piece of science equipment to burn a cross on a student's arm, 10TV in Columbus reported.

Reporters were not allowed in the hearing room when Stephen Short, the superintendent of schools in Mount Vernon, gave his reasons for seeking Freshwater's termination.

Freshwater spoke briefly outside, saying that what he wants is his "Bible on my desk and me back teaching eighth graders."

The school board voted in June to dismiss Freshwater, but he challenged the dismissal. He has been suspended without pay.

The hearing was to continue Friday and to resume Oct. 28 if nothing has been decided.

Students have rallied to support Freshwater. But critics say he taught creationism and ignored the curriculum.

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