Former Sequoyah High School football coach Brent Scott, shown here during a 2007 game, has filed a wrongful termination suit, along with former Assistant Athletic Director Dale Miller, against the Cherokee Nation. In October, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association ruled Scott and eight SHS football players ineligible to participate with the team for rules violations regarding summer camps. MARK DREADFULWATER/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

2 terminated Sequoyah employees file suit

Larry Grigg, former Sequoyah High School boys basketball coach and athletic director, instructs his players during a 2007 game. Grigg was recently terminated from Sequoyah Schools along with former Assistant Athletic Director Dale Miller and former Sequoyah football coach Brent Scott. Scott and Miller have filed wrongful termination suits. TRAVIS SNELL/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Larry Grigg, former Sequoyah High School boys basketball coach and athletic director, instructs his players during a 2007 game. Grigg was recently terminated from Sequoyah Schools along with former Assistant Athletic Director Dale Miller and former Sequoyah football coach Brent Scott. Scott and Miller have filed wrongful termination suits. TRAVIS SNELL/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
01/15/2013 08:37 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Former Sequoyah High School employees Brent Scott and Dale Miller have filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in Cherokee Nation District Court against SHS Superintendent Leroy Qualls and the CN after receiving notifications of their firings on Dec. 7.

“They were given a 30-day notice and their employee ended on Jan. 7,” former Principal Chief Chad Smith, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said.

According to court documents filed on Dec. 21, the plaintiffs allege Qualls, who signed the termination letters, violated their rights to due process by “terminating their employment without cause.”

Qualls declined to comment due to the pending litigation.

Court documents state that Qualls did not consult or get the consent or approval of the SHS board of education to terminate the plaintiffs as required by CN law and that he breached employment agreements with the plaintiffs by failing to perform in good faith.

“They have a constitutional right to due process and pre-termination hearings,” Smith said.

Scott, who was the head football coach; Miller, the former assistant athletic director; and former Athletic Director Larry Griggs, who is not part of the suit, were placed on administrative leave after the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association declared in October that 12 football players played during the season while ineligible. The OSSAA decision forced Sequoyah to forfeit all nine regular season victories, its district title and its spot in the Class 3A football playoffs.

Scott was scheduled to appear before the OSSAA board on Jan. 9 for a reinstatement hearing, but it was continued to February.

The OSSAA declared the players and Scott ineligible in October because in the summers of 2009 to 2012 Sequoyah paid for players to attend sports camps, a violation of OSSAA rules. Eleven of the 12 players were later reinstated to play the next season’s sports. However, quarterback Brayden Scott, Brent’s son, was not reinstated.

Scott was hired as head football coach on Aug. 9, 2004. Miller was hired on March 16, 1992, and Grigg was hired on Aug. 4, 1997.

Smith said Scott and Miller aren’t currently working. The Cherokee Phoenix attempted to contact Grigg but was unsuccessful.

Smith also filed a temporary injunction motion, which if granted, would prohibit the school “from terminating the plaintiffs employment until their case may be heard on the merits.”

The temporary injunction hearing was scheduled for Jan. 2 but was continued until Feb. 6.

“We should have a full hearing on whether Qualls had the authority to fire them,” Smith said. “My request is to keep them (Miller and Scott) on the payroll.”

Nothing has been scheduled in another wrongful termination case filed by three other SHS former employees against the CN administration.

Plaintiffs Geary Don Crofford, Teresia Knott and Louie Jackson filed a suit on Nov. 2 in the District Court against Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Chief of Staff Chuck Hoskin Sr. and Education Services Director Dr. Neil Morton after being laid off during a June reorganization of the school.

“We intend on winning all of these cases,” CN Attorney General Todd Hembree said. “The Sequoyah High School employees that were laid off and/or terminated, we did so within the Cherokee Nation policy, procedures and law and we look forward to winning these cases.”

Crofford, former dean of academics; Knott, former dean of leadership; and Jackson, former dean of students, were laid off along with five other Sequoyah employees. Two of the eight employees have been rehired in different positions at Sequoyah.

“They have the right to file their suit,” Hembree said. “I’ve never begrudged anyone from having their day of court when they think they have been wronged, but in this instance they haven’t been. It was a decision that was made, like I said, in accordance with the policies and procedures of the Cherokee Nation, but I don’t think any more or less of them for bringing their day in court.”

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139

About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
TESINA-JACKSON@cherokee.org • 918-453-5000 ext. 6139
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
01/23/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –An Indian Health Service scholarship workshop has been set for Feb. 10 at Northeastern State University’s Tahlequah campus The workshop will take place on the University Center’s third floor in the Morgan Room. IHS Area Scholarship Coordinator Keith Bohanan will act as the guest facilitator. IHS offers three scholarships to qualified Native American or Alaska Native candidates, those being the preparatory, pre-graduate and health professions scholarships. The preparatory scholarship is for qualified Native American and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in preparatory or undergraduate prerequisite courses in preparation for entry health professions school. The pre-graduate scholarship is for qualified Native American and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in coursework leading to a bachelor’s degree required for application to pre-medicine, pre-dentistry, pre-podiatry and others needed by Indian health programs. The health professions scholarship is for qualified Native American and Alaska Native students who are enrolled in an eligible health profession degree program. For applications, visit <a href="http://www.ihs.gov/scholarship/" target="_blank">www.ihs.gov/scholarship/</a> The deadline for new applications is March 28.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/21/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation is accepting scholarship applications for the 2015-16 academic year until Jan. 31. “The foundation is doing more than ever to help our Cherokee youth succeed academically,” Janice Randall, CNF executive director, said. “These scholarships can often be the deciding factor on whether a student attends college, and we are dedicated to making sure every student has the resources they need to succeed.” The foundation offers three differently funded scholarships: private, tribal and institutionally based. There are currently two institutions with Cherokee endowments – the University of Tulsa and Oklahoma State University. All applications are evaluated based on academic performance, financial need and community and cultural involvement. “The application process can be overwhelming to students, but our online system has been a wonderful resource for students to efficiently search and apply for scholarship opportunities,” Randall said. “We also encourage students to stop by the foundation office if they need assistance creating their profile.” Once students create an online profile, they have instant access to a one-stop shop for all CNF scholarships. The system also provides students with notices reminding them about upcoming scholarship opportunities and deadlines. Applications can be found at www.cherokeenationfoundation.org. In 2014, more than $125,000 in scholarships was awarded to 59 Cherokee students representing communities throughout the Cherokee Nation’s jurisdiction and at-large. For more information, call 918-207-0950 or email Janice Randall at <a href="mailto: jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org">jr@cherokeenationfoundation.org</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/19/2015 12:01 PM
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The 38th annual California Conference on American Indian Education will take place March 15-17 in Palm Springs. The conference’s theme is “Indian Education-Meeting the Challenge” and it will provide an opportunity to share traditional and academic teaching and learning. The conference goals are to honor the elders, who are revered teachers; to provide opportunities for networking among American Indian families, elders, tribal leaders, students and educators; to advocate academic excellence and educational opportunities for American Indian families, educators, tribal leaders and board members; and to recognize distinguished educators, parents and students. To download conference registration forms, visit <a href="http://www.ccaie.org" target="_blank">www.ccaie.org</a>. To register, visit <a href="http://bit.ly/CCAIE2015" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/CCAIE2015</a>. For more information, call Irma Amaro at 530-895-4212, ext. 109 or email <a href="mailto: irma.4winds@att.net">irma.4winds@att.net</a> or call Rachel McBride at 530-895-4212, ext. 110 email <a href="mailto: rachel.4winds@sbcglobal.net">rachel.4winds@sbcglobal.net</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/11/2015 12:00 PM
WASHINGTON – The Center for Native American Youth is accepting applications for the 2015 class of Champions for Change from young Native Americans ages 14 to 22 who demonstrate leadership and service in tribal and urban Indian Communities, schools and programs. The CNAY is dedicated to improving the health, safety and overall well-being of Native American youth through communication, policy development and advocacy. The deadline to apply to the Champions for Change program is Jan. 12. For an application to be reviewed, one must submit a signed and completed application form, an essay or video describing one’s work to promote positive change and completed recommendation forms. Applicants must complete and submit the online forms necessary to apply. For the Champions for Change online application, visit <a href="http://goo.gl/yqDApF" target="_blank">http://goo.gl/yqDApF</a>. For the first adult recommendation form, visit <a href="http://goo.gl/5Z7rtz" target="_blank">http://goo.gl/5Z7rtz</a>. For the second adult recommendation form, visit <a href="http://goo.gl/GfWCZo" target="_blank">http://goo.gl/GfWCZo</a>. For the peer recommendation form, visit <a href="http://goo.gl/P3qcPi" target="_blank">http://goo.gl/P3qcPi</a>. One can also email, fax or mail applications to Josie Raphaelito, One Dupont Circle NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036. Or email <a href="mailto: josie.raphaelito@aspeninstitute.org">josie.raphaelito@aspeninstitute.org</a> or fax 202-293-0525. For more information, call Raphaelito at 202-736-2905.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/10/2015 04:00 PM
WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn announced Dec. 19 that the Bureau of Indian Education has received an additional $40 million as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015. “It’s heartening that Congress and the Obama Administration are working together to ensure American Indian students attending BIE-funded schools receive a world-class education delivered by tribal nations,” Washburn said. “The Consolidated Appropriations Act takes a step in the right direction by addressing critical educational needs identified in the BIE Blueprint for Reform developed by the White House Council on Native American Affairs.” The Consolidated Appropriations Act includes an additional $19.2 million for school replacement over fiscal year 2014 funding levels. The school replacement funding completes the requirements for the school construction project started in fiscal year 2014 and covers design costs for the final two schools on the 2004 priority list. The agreement also includes an increase of $14.1 million for Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribally controlled schools, $2 million for the development and operation of tribal departments of education and an increase of $1.7 million for Science Post Graduate Scholarships. “This additional funding will help us to implement reforms, ensure tribal communities receive sufficient funding to operate their schools, and enable us to begin the longer process of replacing many of our dilapidated schools,” BIE Director Charles “Monty” Roessel said. “We have much work to do, but we are more determined than ever to work with Congress and tribal communities to reach our shared goal of improving educational outcomes for American Indian children.” Under an initiative of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, who chairs the council, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, after consultation with tribal leaders, issued a Blueprint for Reform in June 2014 to redesign the BIE. Building on the Blueprint’s recommendations, Jewell issued a secretarial order to begin restructuring BIE from solely a provider of education to a capacity-builder and education service-provider to tribes. The goal of this transformation is to give tribes the ability themselves to provide an academically rigorous and culturally appropriate education to their students, according to their needs. The blueprint also made recommendations regarding the BIE’s budget, including that Interior invest in the school system’s infrastructure, including funding to support new school construction, and align its budget to support tribal self-determination by requesting and increasing tribal grant and Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribally controlled grant schools. The BIE oversees 183 elementary and secondary schools, including Sequoyah Schools in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, which are operated by the Cherokee Nation. BIE-funded schools are located on 64 reservations in 23 states, serving more than 48,000 students. Of these, 59 are BIE-operated and 124 are tribally operated under Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act contracts or Tribally Controlled Schools Act grants. BIE also funds or operates off-reservation boarding schools and peripheral dormitories near reservations for students attending public schools.
BY STAFF REPORTS
01/10/2015 12:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Northeastern State University in Muskogee is preparing for its first group of students to enter the Master of Science, Physician Assistant Studies Program that begins in January 2017. According to a NSU press release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates job opportunities for PAs are increasing faster than average. They are expected to see a 38 percent growth from 2012-22. Dr. Pamela Hathorn, NSU’s College of Science & Health Professions dean, said Oklahoma graduates approximately 70 PAs a year, which leaves only one PA for every 12,000 individuals in some counties. According to the release, the need for a PA program was identified at a regional healthcare summit at NSU-Muskogee in 2010, where health care leaders, providers and educators across the state came together to address the health care needs of the region. “Occupational therapy was at the top of the list and that is why NSU started with that program,” she said. “Also among the top contenders was the need for mid-level providers (PAs) in the region, so that was the next program on our list.” PAs compile patient data, preform comprehensive examinations, are involved in assessing and providing care and work with patients under the supervision of a physician. A master’s degree is required for entry level into this profession. “The basic didactic and clinical program for PAs is the same regardless of which area of medicine they work in,” said Hathorn. “A PA can work in pediatrics and then decide to change to orthopedics without having to go back to PA school to do so. This is one of the aspects that makes the physician assistant profession so appealing.” The PA program is a two-year program that includes one year of formal training and one year of clinical training. After completing the two years students will be required to pass a licensing exam by the state medical board. Hathorn said any major can apply for the PA program, but certain courses are required for admittance into the program. “The major doesn’t prepare them for their health professions program,” she said. “The prerequisite courses they had to take to apply to the program is what prepares them for the program and/or the admissions exam, in some cases.” The first PA class at NSU will only accept 16 students. “It’s harder to get into PA than medical school, part of that is because there are fewer seats in the state for PA versus medical school,” said Hathorn. “However, it is not unusual for competitive students to apply three times before being accepted into PA school.” For more information, visit www.nsuok.edu/MPAS or email <a href="mailto: prehealth@nsuok.edu">prehealth@nsuok.edu</a>.