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The campaign by hundreds of Fresno High alumni and other supporters to retain the school’s Native American mascot image intensified this week with a lawsuit asking the Fresno County Superior Court to intervene in the dispute.

At Wednesday’s School Board meeting, Nicholas Dodson of the Native American Guardians Association, which has worked with other schools considering changing a Native American mascot name or logo, carried the lawsuit to the dais to “serve” the board. He also brought them an armful of Fresno High pro-mascot T-shirts.

The lawsuit, filed Monday by San Francisco attorney Ryan Griffith on behalf of petitioner Jim Tuck, alleges that the School Board’s 6-1 vote on Dec. 9 to change the mascot image from a cartoon figure of a Native American warrior violated the Brown Act.

“The Fresno High Warrior is an item that is the source of passionate debate among several groups and must be opened for public discussion,” the lawsuit says. “The purpose of the Brown Act is to ensure all viewpoints are heard. The Brown Act does not allow legislative bodies to decide what the public should and should not know. …  All Petitioner and his supporters are asking for is a chance to be heard on this issue by requiring the Board to conduct a re-vote that is open to public comment.”

The board’s vote did not affect the Warriors mascot name but retires the image of a Native American man.

Griffith, who provided a redacted version of the lawsuit to GV Wire on Thursday, said Tuck is being replaced as the petitioner. “I think he would prefer not to have his name in public, and a group called Save Our Schools will actually end up being the Plaintiff/Petitioner,” he said in an email to GV Wire.

Tuck was one of numerous people who submitted written comments to the School Board for Wednesday’s meeting. He noted that the mascot logo supporters are growing in number and could become a potent political force.

“Our group is getting bigger every day. We just opened a nonprofit called “save our Schools” or “SOS” and we will also be starting recall petitions and running opponents against board members who will not listen to reason,” he said in the comment.

The civil suit has been assigned to the courtroom of Judge Mark Cullers. No hearings had been scheduled as of Thursday.

Advocates Keep Lobbying

The lawsuit comes as supporters, some of whom say they are partly or wholly Native American, have continued to appear in person at School Board meetings, wearing T-shirts and waving placards that contain the image of the Native American mascot logo.

Fresno High mascot supporters at the May 5 School Board meeting at Sunnyside High School. (GV Wire/Nancy Price)

Mascot supporters who claim Native American blood say they are offended that the logo is being replaced because it is a denial of their heritage.

At Wednesday’s School Board meeting, Nicholas Willis of the Native American Guardians Association, which has worked with other schools considering changing a Native American mascot name or logo, carried the lawsuit to the dais to “serve” the board. He also brought them an armful of Fresno High pro-mascot T-shirts.

The group’s theme is “educate, not eradicate,” a meme that has been picked up by the Fresno High mascot supporters.

But in the meantime, the district is proceeding with replacing the mascot and has asked Fresno High students to weigh in on it. District spokeswoman Amy Idsvoog said the students completed their review in mid-April and the district will soon unveil the new mascot logo.

As for the lawsuit, Idsvoog said Thursday, “We’re reviewing it. It’s not our practice to comment on pending litigation.”

Fiscal Impact Significant

The lawsuit alleges that the district stated on the Dec. 9 meeting agenda that changing the mascot would have no fiscal impact, that the district had previously said no decision would be made on the mascot until students returned to school, and that public input on the debate was limited because of the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the district subsequently estimated it could cost at least $400,000 and likely much more to replace or remove all of the Native American logo images used by Fresno High.

In the months leading up to the Dec. 9 meeting, when the district conducted virtual focus groups and other meetings, students were on distance learning and not attending class at Fresno High.

The school district’s attorney also contends that mascot supporters waited too long to lodge their complaint about Brown Act violations. The Brown Act sets the rules for public meeting notifications in California, but sets a deadline for filing complaints.

However, Griffith, the plaintiffs’ attorney, maintains that the COVID-19 pandemic not only constrained public participation in the deliberation process, but also should be considered as a mitigating factor when considering Brown Act deadlines.

12 Responses

  1. Willy

    How special is that 2 Native Americans served the lawsuit to the FUSD board members and Superintendent Nelson. This illegal removal will cost us taxpayers upwards of $400,000 to a million dollars. Not to mention the massive legal bill from the lawfirm trying to represent the the school board’s politically charged actions joining the cancel culture criminals.
    These decisions are being overturned in the USA. San Francisco Unified School District just reversed a decision to change the names of 44 schools because it was considered a frivolous spending on non-educational items.
    131 years the warrior has been the honorable symbol of Fresno High. So a few non Indian ” woke” zombies want some attention they decide that the 131 year old Warrior image is offensive. That is an opinion not a fact, FUSD get off your lazy behinds and reopen the schools full time you are failing the students as FUSD is at the lowest 5% in the nation academically. Furthermore the only racist bigots are the board members who decided that a proud warrior image is offensive. I think the board is offensive . Oh wait this is the same board that hates the police and doesn’t want them on campus as resource officiers.
    How about we recall the board and find competent people who actually place students first.

    Reply
    • Mark

      We need to get rid of them one by one. I attended that board meeting and they were all sitting there like they are untouchable. All but Mr Slatic are judge mental cancel culture idiots.

      Reply
      • Joe Barron

        Mr. slatic is a clumsy, lumbering sociopathic kai-ju whose only gift is his capacity to terrorize the villagers.

      • Joe Barron

        Also, he is a thin skinned fragile egomaniac as well.

    • Catherine

      Finally! Someone with some common sense! Thank you for your support! This current Board (minus one) has to be voted off and the “Superintendent” Neslon, thereafter. All are completely worthless. 2022 will be OUR year!

      Reply
    • Joe Barron

      Sniveling willy isn’t a becoming look for people seeking justice. And your statistics deserve more scrutiny, or at the very least, data that doesn’t have problematic issues. But like some higher primate, you are going to throw your rhetorical feces out and see what sticks.
      1. The Alums had their shot, and were allowed to speak.
      2. The Alums are associating with a known cyberbully\cyberterrorist in order to scapegoat staff.
      3. Retiring an image and dealing with the hurt feelings of a group who feel that image is theirs by some twisted, sovereign right is just simply ridiculous and then act out in a very public tantrum to further a point is just sad.
      Btw way willy, your rhetoric is crude and clumsy, like both of the petitions that were submitted.

      Here’s an idea, someone go ask Darius if we can replace it with the image of his namesake, or of Xerxes? Then we can weed out the Native-phobes from the Persian-phobes.

      Reply
  2. Butch

    They even went so far as to call a member of the public “prejudice” for asking about the health and we’ll being of a trustee. Now the board will probably call all of you “prejudice” for wanting to retain the image of a native American warrior. You watch. The 6 members of the board don’t want to understand that they make 74,000 students handicapped every year by not giving them a proper education. They are just too arrogant and ignorant to realize it. Maybe if they were a victim of a violent crime by one of their graduates would they realize it.

    Reply
    • Joe Barron

      Clearly you have no idea of what you are talking about. That’s why you cower in the shadows of Nasemi’s little propaganda rag instead of appealing to local media outlets.

      Reply
      • Willy

        Joe Barron
        ” local media outlets” like propaganda bankrupt rag Fresno Bee or Horrid Corid at Channel 30.
        Nah, we are going with true local community news outlets not a bankrupt rag with no office filled with non California/ non- Fresno contractual writers getting paid by the piece.
        Or the progressive socialist from Indiana Covid Hoggard who never met a Fresno person he liked.
        They don’t understand fair balance and reporting facts. But funny how the leftover laid off Fresno Bee reporters ( many award winning) made their way over to GV Wire.
        Your generic sarcasm lacks specifics and merits. GV Wire so far has reported majority of their reports as fact WITHOUT taking a side or leftist slant.
        Your posts mostly contain personal attacks which further proves you have no argument and therefore you slide to the dark side of personal attacks.
        You sound like you are a victim of FUSD bottom dwelling education that ranks at lowest 5% in the nation academically. Keep politics out of education we are not interested in our children being taught hatred and divisions with the Critical Race Theory and 1619 Project .
        Surrounding school districts and private schools are open and in personlearning while low performing FUSD practices political ideology and turning children into victims via social justice ignorance.
        131 years this brave honorable symbol of a warrior has been a Fresno staple.
        Some bigot racist members of FUSD school board connected to Democract Socialists of America groups like ” Barriors Unidos” and ” Valley Natives for Change” and other fake groups decide that the warrior image now offends people after 131 years . The same 2 who hate the police and resource officers on campus. Same echo chamber . Nah, it’s not going to fly with the court system especially the abuse of BROWN Act procedure that these 2 ignorant radicals on the board abuse on a daily basis. Making back room deals on our children’s education based on their political agenda will not prevail. Neither will the fake showmanship of the lead petitioner a failed small time entertainer seeking attention like urinating onstage.
        Fresno Police is having a field day with the rap sheet of this so- called traumatized victim aka petitioner who never attended Fresno High.
        Let’s see some substance in your posts ” Joe” . Not the same old personal attacks that are nothing more than your anger and hatred. Keep blaming others for your personal failures in life. Cancel culture bigots won’t survive. This same group never finishes anything they start one failure after another. Cannot even sell high end jewelry, financial planning or recall the lone white male on the board. Alas, accountability isn’t one of your strong points with you its always the other person’s fault why you fail at everything you touch.

  3. Nicholas Willis

    Fresno Unified Believes they are untouchable . It was a pleasure serving the lawsuit against the School District as a National Representative of the Native American Guardians Association and on behalf of the Alumni. They need to save time and just resign. Also please fix a few things my last name is Not Dodson . Go Warriors

    Reply
  4. Joe Barron

    “Griffith, who provided a redacted version of the lawsuit to GV Wire on Thursday, said Tuck is being replaced as the petitioner. “I think he would prefer not to have his name in public, and a group called Save Our Schools will actually end up being the Plaintiff/Petitioner,” he said in an email to GV Wire.”

    Perhaps Mr Tuck should not be encouraging [by his silence on social media], the harassment of staff, or people who are opposed to this. The first thing to notice is he does not have standing, and the State offered guidance on how to conduct public meeting under the Brown Act.

    Reply
    • Willy

      Joe Barron ;
      You obviously never have served on a board before or understand policy and procedures of the BROWN Act.
      You are incorrect about Mr. Tuck , replacement of the petitioner ( plaintiff) to a class action / non profit is brilliant legal strategies. This fight includes the community of Fresno who grows tired of the politicizing of FUSD and driving our academic standard to the lowest 5 percentile in the nation.
      ” Joe” we hope you find some peace with your anger, frustration and failures in life. But let’s let due process and the courts decide what is legal or illegal.
      Hopefully you can get to a place in life where you have some success instead of 1 failure after another.

      Reply

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