Settlement reached in lawsuit against school district
By ADAM TAYLOR
KnoxPages Managing Editor
MOUNT VERNON – A settlement agreement has been reached between the Mount Vernon City School District and the family of a boy who alleged he was burned with a tesla coil during a science experiment in 2007.
The district’s insurer has agreed to pay $5,500 to the family of the Mount Vernon Middle School eighth grader who alleged that his teacher, John Freshwater, burned a cross-shaped mark into his arm with a BD-10A Electrostatic Generator, according to a news release from the board of education. The company will also pick up the tab on the boy’s legal fees, which came in at $115,500.
The settlement means the student’s federal lawsuit against the Mount Vernon City School’s Board of Education, Superintendent Steve Short and MVMS Principal William White will be dismissed.
“There have been no admissions of liability by the board, superintendent and middle school principal,” said a news release.
The resolution of the lawsuit does not affect an administrative hearing where Freshwater, who is under unpaid suspension, is disputing the board’s decision to terminate him for the science experiment and allegations that he pushed his Christian beliefs in the classroom.
Freshwater has since filed a federal lawsuit against the district.
Terms of the settlement will prevent any staff members from discussing the Freshwater lawsuit with members of the boy’s family and teachers in the future will have to attend classes on First Amendment, religion and public education.
Board members and administrators would not comment further, according to the news release.