A majority of Fresno Unified trustees agreed Wednesday night that they see no reason to revise their censure of fellow trustee Terry Slatic, noting that he has not attended anger management and now is threatening to sue the district over the censure.
And board president Keshia Thomas, who accused Slatic of showing no remorse and called his attempt to have legal fees reimbursed by a Bullard High teenager “ridiculous,” said she would make the censure even harsher if she could.
Slatic, who was censured last summer over a series of incidents involving Bullard students and staff and an Army recruiter, said he wanted to give the board a chance to modify the resolution because a judge will ask if that step was taken before letting a lawsuit proceed.
Slatic has maintained that the censure resolution, which sets conditions such as limiting his visits to campuses and meetings with district staff and removing his indemnification from legal claims, is illegal because it disenfranchises his Bullard area constituents.
“When a matter is brought before a court, a judge, I have been advised by my attorney, asks if informal attempts have been tried to remedy the situation prior to going to court,” he said. “This is that informal attempt. Thank you.”
Speakers: Censure Is Still Deserved
Several speakers urged the board not to make revisions to the censure resolution — unless those revisions would increase the sanctions.
Jessica Mahoney, who is involved in the campaign to recall Slatic and announced that the campaign now has the green light to collect signatures, accused him of violating the censure resolution at Tuesday’s LCAP meeting at Bullard High School when he spoke briefly to the public and did not have an escort while on campus.
Chief of staff David Chavez later told the board that there was no violation because Slatic is allowed to attend public meetings without an escort and speak at them as a trustee.
Parents Want Censure To Remain
Elisha Henderson, chairwoman of Bullard’s African American Parents Committee, a board member for the Bullard PTA, and a Baird Middle PTA member, said she was speaking for other parents who believe the censure should remain in place.
Slatic made no effort to reach out to the African American community, which was outraged by revelations that a Bullard cheerleader appeared in blackface and used inappropriate racial language in videos that were posted to social media, Henderson said. She thanked Thomas and trustee Valerie Davis for stepping forward to hear the community’s concerns and said Slatic was “nowhere to be found.”
“If you’re going to make any changes, you increase the censure to the best of your ability,” Henderson told the board.
Cheerleader Meeting Led To Legal Complaint
After Slatic attended a July meeting of cheerleaders, one of the cheerleaders filed for a restraining order, claiming that she felt bullied and threatened by Slatic. He denies that and maintains that his goal was to put a stop to ongoing criticism on social media over the school’s and district’s handling of the incident.
After a Fresno County judicial officer denied the restraining order, Slatic’s attorney filed a motion asking for the teen to pay his legal costs, now estimated at $12,000. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Jan. 22.
In December, the cheerleader’s mother filed a claim for damages against Slatic, Superintendent Bob Nelson and Bullard staffers Scott Sanders and William Podsakoff. Her three-page handwritten claim alleged that the staffers were present at the cheerleader meeting and did nothing to protect the teens from Slatic, and that Nelson gave Slatic permission to meet with the cheerleaders.
The board voted unanimously and without discussion Wednesday night to uphold Nelson’s recommendation to deny the claim, which was included on the board’s consent agenda.
GV Wire is not identifying either the cheerleader because she is a minor or her mother.
Meanwhile, the ACLU of Northern California in October filed a formal complaint on behalf of Henderson’s daughter and another Bullard student, alleging that the blackface incident was symbolic of the hostile environment black students face at the northwest Fresno high school.
Let Board Attorneys Take Another Look
Trustee Carol Mills said that the board had not been provided any specific revisions to the censure resolution and is unaware of whether any are legally required. She suggested that the board refer the matter to its legal counsel for further review.
Thomas rejected that idea immediately. “We will not refer it to legal counsel. That should have been discussed with me, if that was your thoughts,” she said to Mills.
Thomas said Slatic provided no recommended revisions and has not attended anger management. And, she said, the ad hoc committee that drew up the resolution did so with the advice of the district’s legal counsel.
“We’re not doing anything that’s not within the realms of the law,” Thomas said.
Cazares: Nothing Has Changed
Trustee Claudia Cazares told Slatic that his behavior and demeanor have the effect of frightening herself and others, even if that may not be his actual intention.
“You’re trying again to intimidate us, which you are, so, you won. Congratulations,” she said. “It doesn’t fly here. We’re not changing anything.
“If you think you’re going to go out as a trustee as the one who sued the district every time you didn’t get your way, go right ahead.”