Pastors Accuse FUSD Trustee Slatic of Abusive, Racist Rant at Bagel Shop
Two Fresno pastors have lodged complaints with Fresno Unified School District that allege trustee Terry Slatic was belligerent, used profane language, and told one minister to “go back to the barrio” in a March meeting.
The district said in a news release distributed late Friday on behalf of the school board that it investigated the complaints and found that Slatic “engaged in conduct that could be described as ‘abusive,’ ‘disrespectful,’ ‘personal,’ and ‘attacking’ in violation of Board Bylaw 9005 and the August 2019 Board Censure Resolution.”
Slatic initially only denied the allegations that he was abusive or racist but later Monday provided a chronology to GV Wire℠ with responses to allegations by the two pastors in the district’s investigative report, which has not been released.
“These two ordained clergy will have to answer to a higher power for their bearing of false witness, he said, adding that during his military service in the Middle East and Afghanistan he learned that “clerics can be dishonest and politically driven.”
The board of trustees will consider further action against Slatic at the Aug. 12 meeting, the district said.
Censure Vote Was One Year Ago
The new action by the board will come almost exactly one year after trustees voted 6-0 to censure Slatic for a series of incidents in which he was accused of abusive behavior toward Bullard High School students, staff, and an Army recruiter. The censure resolution required Slatic to have an escort when visiting school sites and to undergo anger management.
Related Story: Fresno Unified Board Censures Trustee Slatic, Says He Needs Anger Management ...
In addition to the statement, the district released the complaints that were filed in March by Pastor D. Kevin Smith of Ark Christian Fellowship and Pastor Elias Loera of Family Christian Assembly detailing a meeting they had with Slatic at Uncle Harry’s Bagelry at Shaw and Marks avenues on March 11.
The board agreed by “majority consensus” during the closed session portion of the June 17 board meeting to release the complaints and statement by the board, district spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said Monday.
The statements from Smith and Loera alleged that Slatic talked about overhauling the administration at Bullard High and also “sending troublemakers south,” referring to students with disciplinary issues.
‘Go Back to The Barrio’
Loera’s statement said that when he disagreed, Slatic then launched into a profane, racist tirade.
“He told me to go back to the barrio and pastor my little church,” Loera’s statement said. “He told me I was not S— as a soldier and that he had killed over a thousand people in three combat tours in Afghanistan. He offered to compare our DD 214’s to show me what a piece of Sh– I was. He stood up in a threatening manner and cursed at me and Pastor Kevin for at least 2 minutes before storming out.”
Loera could not be reached for comment Monday.
Manager Doesn’t Recall Incident
The manager of Uncle Harry’s Bagelry told GV Wire℠ on Monday that she was working in the restaurant the morning of March 11 and did not recall hearing or hearing about a profane tirade from a customer.
Although the shop is typically noisy, Claudia Ramirez said, an angry outburst likely would have the attention of her or her staff.
“I’m not saying it didn’t happen,” she said. “But I would remember, and I don’t recall anything like that.”
Ramirez said she and her employees would not have seen the incident if it was outside on the patio, but Slatic told GV Wire℠ he met with the two pastors inside the restaurant.
Pastor Says Slatic Should Step Down
Smith told GV Wire℠ he was unaware of whether the outburst caught the attention of other patrons or staff in the restaurant. He said he is “saddened” that Slatic denies that he was abusive or racist and believes that the trustee, a Marine Corps veteran, may be suffering from PTSD that is affecting his behavior as well as his memory.
“I hope he’ll get assistance for it so he can get his life under control,” said Smith, who is calling for Slatic to step down from his trustee seat. “He’s not the first veteran I’ve met with PTSD. I’ve referred them to the VA for years.”
Smith said he was astonished and taken aback at the restaurant meeting when Slatic lashed out at a fellow veteran who is also a leader among pastors in the Fresno area, just because Loera and Smith disagreed with Slatic’s proposals for Bullard staff and students.
Loera could have been a connection between area pastors and Slatic, but “I don’t think he’ll find much entrée with other pastors now,” Smith said.
Slatic Denies Allegations
Slatic’s versions of events are contained in a chronology he compiled about the March 11 meeting, which comments made to the district investigator and include:
- Slatic said that Loera self-identified as a racist when he said he wanted programs to benefit students of color and said, “I’m especially racist against people who live north of Shaw.” Slatic said the “only completely true” statement made by Smith to the investigator was when he said Slatic told Loera, “This meeting is over because you’re part of the problem.”
- Loera told Slatic he was thinking like a major (his retired rank) when he talked about his proposals for Bullard High, but the colonels and generals of Fresno Unified would see the situation differently. Slatic said he believed Loera was unaware of the role that trustees, who are elected officials and oversee the district’s superintendent, play in the district hierarchy.
- Loera said Slatic had done research on him prior to the meeting and then talked about his own military service record while disparaging Loera’s. Slatic said he had only researched the location of Loera’s church and called Loera “delusional” for asserting that Slatic had claimed to have killed 1,000 people.
- Loera said the shop at Uncle Harry’s was full of people, one of whom followed Slatic outside to his car and “cornered” him. Smith said he believed that everybody in the shop heard Slatic’s outburst. No one approached them to talk about it. Slatic said he was not cornered but was in conversation with a supporter who walked out with him. He emphasized that Loera and Smith reported that nobody in the shop commented or reacted to “a heated, loud, profanity laced altercation.”
- The district investigator sought to speak with the bagel shop manager, Ramirez, but she did not respond to his phone queries. Slatic said that there were no independent witnesses to back up the pastors’ claims about the outburst.
- Loera said Slatic spent 30 minutes complaining about Bullard High and seemed to suggest students from south Fresno were to blame for issues such as weapons on campus and the “blackface” incident involving cheerleaders. Smith told the investigator he wasn’t sure who used the word “barrio” first, Slatic or Loera, but told the investigator that Loera said something to the effect of “You’re
talking about sending kids back to the barrio. My church is in the barrio. Those are my people.” Slatic’s comment: The cheerleader incident involved people from northwest Fresno, not south Fresno.
- Loera and Smith said Slatic attacked Leora’s military service record, which Loera told the investigator included fighting in three wars, jumping out of airplanes and chasing Manuel Noriega. Smith told the investigator that Slatic had researched Loera’s record and concluded “You weren’t really a soldier. I was a soldier.” Slatic notes that Marines never call themselves soldiers.