COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The school board of a small central Ohio community voted unanimously Friday to fire a teacher accused of preaching his Christian beliefs despite staff complaints and using a device to burn the image of a cross on students' arms.

School board members voted 5-0 to fire Mount Vernon Middle School science teacher John Freshwater. Freshwater denies wrongdoing and will request a hearing to challenge the dismissal, the teacher's attorney, Kelly Hamilton, told the Mount Vernon News.

School board members met a day after the consulting firm H.R. On Call Inc. released its report on the teacher's case.

The report came a week after a family filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus against Freshwater and the school district, saying Freshwater burned a cross on a child's arm that remained for three or four weeks.

Freshwater used a science tool known as a high-frequency generator to burn images of a cross on students' arms in December, the report said. Freshwater told investigators he simply was trying to demonstrate the device on several students and described the images as an "X," not a cross. But pictures show a cross, the report said.