A Bullard cheerleader who unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against Fresno Unified trustee Terry Slatic was ordered Thursday to pay him $1,000 for his legal costs and $285.68 in court costs.
Slatic, who represents the Bullard High School area on the school board, had sought $10,000 for his legal costs.
Fresno County Superior Court Commissioner Noelle Pebet said she did not find the request for a restraining order was frivolous, as Slatic and his attorney Michael Goldfeder had maintained.
However, she cited legal precedent that plaintiffs who filed actions in good faith but did not prevail could be ordered to pay legal fees and courts costs to the defendant when ruling that the teen must pay some of Slatic’s legal costs.
Teen Will Get Help to Cover Costs
Attorney Aida Macedo, who represented the teen on a pro bono basis, said afterward the judge’s ruling was fair and that a fundraising effort — or her law firm — would cover the teen’s legal costs.
“She (the cheerleader) just wants to get back to her normal high school life,” Macedo said.
GV Wire is not identifying the girl by name because she is a minor.
The teen, then 16, sought a temporary restraining order against Slatic in July after he addressed a meeting of Bullard’s cheerleaders at a summer training session.
Slatic said his goal was to discourage cheerleaders who were continuing to use social media to disparage and seek the ouster of other cheerleaders who had posted video of one girl in blackface using racially inappropriate language.
Slatic: Politics, not Fear, Prompted Teen
Slatic contends that the cheerleader’s request for a restraining order was part of a political campaign to oust him from the school board, to which he won election in November 2018.
But in seeking the restraining order, the teen said Slatic’s comments to the group left her fearful and in need of protection. She went to the courthouse with her mother and filed the paperwork requesting the restraining order. In August a judge ordered that she and Slatic should stay 20 yards away from each other.
That same month the Fresno Unified trustees voted 6-0 to censure Slatic for his involvement in several incidents involving Bullard students, staff, and an Army recruiter last year. The censure resolution required that he take anger management classes and also removed the district’s responsibility to cover his legal costs incurred in his official role as a trustee — which could include his defense costs in the restraining order case.
Claim Filed With Fresno Unified Over Censure
Slatic has filed a claim with the district for damages related to the censure, alleging that it is “deeply flawed both legally and factually,” was imposed without due process, and violates the state Constitution by disenfranchising Slatic, and by extension, constituents in the district’s Area 7.
As an unlimited civil claim, Slatic would be seeking damages in excess of $25,000 if that matter is filed as a civil case in the Fresno County Superior Court.
The board is scheduled to discuss the claim with legal counsel at next Wednesday’s board meeting.
Slatic said he would not have had to seek legal reimbursement from the Bullard cheerleader if the board had not censured him in the first place and removed his legal indemnification as a trustee.
Legal Costs not Covered by District
He said the trustees, and the cheer coach who urged the teen to seek the restraining order, should be held responsible for her legal bills.
“They can all write checks,” he said. “They are all welcome to write checks.”
Slatic said he will not try to recoup his legal costs in the restraining order case now because other trustees have made it clear that they would reject those claims.
But those costs, and any legal costs incurred in his claim against the district to have the censure removed, will be submitted later to the district if a court rules the censure was illegal, he said.
Recall Effort Under Way
In the wake of district investigations into the incidents involving Slatic and the censure resolution, a campaign to recall Slatic was initiated by proponents who contend that schools need to be protected from him.
The paperwork initiating the recall was filed in October. In a letter dated Jan. 13, the Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voters office told recall proponents that the petition language met legal requirements, clearing the way for them to begin collecting signatures.
The deadline to file the petition with the elections office is May 12. Supporters will need to submit 7,388 qualified signatures of Area 7 voters to qualify for the ballot, the letter said.
Recall proponent Stacy Williams said Thursday she does not know how many signatures have been gathered so far.