For much of Thursday night’s school board special meeting, Fresno Unified trustee Terry Slatic sat at the dais, hands folded, nary an expression on his face.
The meeting was called to discuss recent actions by Slatic — who has found himself embroiled in several controversies since he joined the board in December.
This time, his fellow trustees voted to act after an incident last week in which Slatic met with Bullard High School’s cheer team. The reports of Slatic’s demeanor and statements to the team led to outrage from the public.
Board Seeks Campus Ban for Slatic
By a 5-0 vote, the board voted to disapprove of Slatic’s conduct, require an escort any time Slatic wants to visit any campus, request the superintendent to ban him from the Bullard campus for 14 days, and establish a committee to consider a formal censure.
Board president Claudia Cazares joined trustees Elizabeth Jonasson Rosas, Keshia Thomas, Carol Mills and Veva Islas. Slatic voted as present. The seventh board member, Valerie Davis, did not attend because she was in New York for a previously scheduled school conference.
Superintendent Bob Nelson also did not attend because of a previously scheduled vacation. However, he was present via telephone, listening to the meeting.
Slatic: No Plans to Resign
Islas and many members of the public who spoke at the meeting called on Slatic to resign. After the meeting, he told the media he had no intention to do so.
Asked for his reaction to what he heard that evening, he said he expected it to go the way it went. He also called for transparency, repeating statements he made during the board meeting.
On July 10, Slatic came to Bullard High during a cheer team practice and addressed the team about lingering tensions from the nationally chronicled blackface and n-word social media post by two cheerleaders.
Parents and students said Slatic told squad members they could be dismissed from the team or not allowed to attend cheer camp if they continued talking about the blackface post.
Slatic said he was authorized by Superintendent Bob Nelson to speak to the cheer team. However, a district spokeswoman said Nelson “was not aware of (the) content or delivery” of Slatic’s talk.
The controversy follows others involving Slatic, including a physical altercation with a student in January, and a run-in with an Army recruiter.
Board Meeting Starts with Audio
The public portion of the special meeting called by board president Claudia Cazares started with the playing of an audio recording of Slatic’s comments to the cheer squad, allegedly recorded by a member of the team.
Nearly 30 audience members then gave comments to the board. All but one was critical of Slatic’s conduct.
Those who spoke called Slatic a bully, threatening, and mentally unfit for the job.
Parents of cheer team members, like Terance Frazier, a well-known Fresno developer, and Mike Shirinian, a well-known Fresno restauranteur, felt the cheerleaders involved in the blackface incident should not have been allowed to return to the team.
“This is a big deal,” Shirinian told the board.
@TEEFRAZ (Terance Frazier) speaks. His daughter is on cheer team. Talks about a grown man, Slatic, bullying his daughter. No excuse that makes this acceptable. Says he forgiven girls from black face incident. Offended they were let back on team. Very impassioned. pic.twitter.com/16SbcGNd3x
— David Taub (@TaubGVWire) July 19, 2019
Other parents said bigotry and bullying cannot be tolerated, and demanded the board take some kind of action.
A number of parents warned Slatic never to address their children in such a manner again.
Several members of the team spoke, saying how hard it was for them after the district allowed the girls in the alleged blackface incident to return on the team.
At times, Cazares said the meeting was to discuss Slatic’s actions, not the blackface incident. Some parents directed comments at Slatic from the audience, and there were outbursts when others were speaking.
Board Discusses Censure
When the discussion returned to the board, trustees expressed their concerns about Slatic’s behavior. They noted this wasn’t the first controversial incident involving the Bullard area representative. Thomas told Slatic his actions hurt her.
Islas spoke directly to Slatic, asking him to resign. She pushed for a vote on censure, but Mills noted the board could not take that step because of the way the motion appeared on the agenda.
Trustees agreed to take up the censure issue at the next regular board meeting in August. In the meantime, Slatic will not be allowed to be on the Bullard campus for 14 days if Nelson withdraws his right to be there. Slatic can appeal such a decision.
Under the board’s action Thursday night, however, Slatic must have an escort while on any Fresno Unified campus.
Slatic said he would meet with advisors to consider his next action.
Keshia Thomas tells her colleague Slatic she is hurt. Slatic doesn’t speak for the board. They do everything in their power to do what’s right. pic.twitter.com/4cA16kmrB1
— David Taub (@TaubGVWire) July 19, 2019
Restraining Order Denied
On Wednesday, a Fresno Superior Court judicial officer denied a temporary restraining order petition filed by a 16-year-old Bullard High student against Slatic. A court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 5 in the matter.
The student had asked that Slatic remain 100 yards away from her and Bullard High.
In her complaint, the student said Slatic came to the cheer practice “unannounced to bully and threaten the program and individuals for the actions of two members for an incident in May that had nothing to do with the cheer team as a whole. Terry Slatic also took advantage of his authority as a board member to harass innocent girls and women.”
The student also wrote the incident caused her “anxiety, stress and to feel physically ill. He also didn’t feel what he did was wrong and it worries me that he might do it again.”