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

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2016 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens Jackson Wells and Ashlyn King are, respectively, the valedictorian and salutatorian for Sequoyah High School’s class of 2016. The school’s graduation is at 6:30 p.m. on May 20 at the Place Where They Play gym. “This year’s graduating class has outstanding leaders who will go on to do many great things,” Sequoyah Superintendent Leroy Qualls said. “We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them a bright future as they move into their next journey.” Wells, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.57 GPA and is attending Brown University this fall. “My grandpa has always been my biggest motivation because he always believed in me,” Wells said. “He is the wisest person I have ever met and everything he has said has always driven me.” Wells completed 36 hours of concurrent college courses at Northeastern State University while in high school. He is also in National Honor Society, student council, academic team, chess club, yearbook, drama club and band. King, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.26 GPA and is attending the University of Oklahoma this fall. King is a member of NHS and drama club. She is also the percussion section leader in the school’s marching band and president of Students Working Against Tobacco. King has completed 17 hours of concurrent college courses at NSU and is taking six hours of summer classes at OU. “I will really miss marching band,” King said. “One of the most memorable moments I will always have is during my sophomore year we won a trophy for best drum line of the year in a competition and the trophy was about 4 feet tall. It was awesome.” King plans to study biochemistry and Wells is undecided, but hopes to one day be a professor. The class of 2016 has earned $1.36 million in college scholarships, had two Gates Millennium Scholars and 33 seniors complete at least 12 hours of concurrent college courses.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/17/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Sequoyah Schools Summer Feeding Program will kick off on May 23. The program provides free breakfast and lunch to children 18 years old and younger. The program is set to run until July 8 and will be provide meals Monday through Thursday. Breakfast is served at 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. while lunch is served from 11 a.m. to noon. Adults may also enjoy the food and purchase breakfast for $2 and lunch for $4. Sequoyah’s cafeteria is located at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-453-5190.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/13/2016 12:30 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club will sponsor 10 Cherokee students’ with a $600 per academic year scholarship or endowment. The scholarship applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis for full-time students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education, according to a release. Applications must be received by July 31. For more information regarding eligibility requirements, call Vicki at 918-798-0771 or visit <a href="http://www.iwpclub.org" target="_blank">www.iwpclub.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/13/2016 08:15 AM
STILLWATER, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Megan Baker, an 18-year-old sophomore at Oklahoma State University, was recently crowned as the university’s Miss American Indian 2016-17. With the title comes responsibility and Baker said she is ready for it. “I was filled with pride to be chosen as a Native American representative for Oklahoma State University and was anxious to make a difference in my community,” she said. Baker said earning the title has led her to “countless” opportunities. “I recently have been chosen to attend the sixth annual Native Women’s Leadership Academy, along with (CN citizen) Cierra Fields, to represent Cherokee Nation. It means that I am going to be a representative of the Cherokee Nation and my school,” she said. Baker said she is involved with the school’s Native American Student Association, which she helps with different events such as the annual powwow. “We put on the annual powwow there in Stillwater. This year I helped with that for about 12 hours,” she said. “We also have Indian taco sales, which help us put on different programs.” Baker is a psychology major and plans to minor in sociology. She said she eventually hopes to become a criminal profiler or criminal psychologist and work with the FBI. “It has always been my dream to be an investigator of sorts and helping people is just rewarding in itself,” she said. Baker said before entering college she was a 2015 co-valedictorian at Locust Grove High School. “It was just the greatest honor that I could have received from Locust Grove. I tried so hard academically, taking all honors courses and being a concurrent student that it felt like I got the recognition and felt like they noticed my hard work as a student,” she said. Baker said being a CN citizen not only makes her a strong person, but also leader. “Our people are so strong and have been through so much and have come out of the ashes to become one of the best nations, in my book,” she said. “I think that there are so many great young representatives that are doing amazing things for our Nation, and to me I believe that to be a citizen, means to be a strong person and a strong leader.”
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
05/12/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Columbia University in New York recently accepted Tahlequah High School senior Miriam Reed for the fall semester. To pay for that Ivy League education, the school is giving the Cherokee Nation citizen an annual scholarship of $73,000 for four years. She is a Gates Millennium scholar to boot. With hopes of majoring in environmental engineering, Reed committed to the school in April. Several universities, including California Berkley, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, accepted her college applications. She narrowed her options to Berkley and Columbia before choosing Columbia. That decision was affirmed after attending a paid trip to the school’s Engineering Days in April. “Everyone there was so welcoming, and they made it feel like a place that I wanted to spend the next four years,” she said. “Your admission counselors knew everything about you. It just really felt like home.” Reed said the Columbia scholarship would cover all aspects of her life there, including personal expenses and travel. Her Gates Millennium Scholarship, she said, would allow her to focus on school and not work. “That gives me the opportunity to study abroad. I don’t have to do a work study program, so I can focus purely on my school,” she said. “It covers 10 years of a college education, if I wanted to go get my master’s (degree) elsewhere. I don’t have to be pressured into staying at a school for four years…it also gives me the opportunity to lessen my grant that I got from Columbia to help someone else provide for their school as well.” Her long-term goals include earning a degree in environmental engineering and partaking in alternative energy projects for underdeveloped areas of the world. “I’m looking forward to joining their (Columbia’s) engineering club that they have there. They go out and they get to help different countries with water filtration systems and helping build bridges and just like really helping countries that are less privileged than the country we live in,” she said. In high school, Reed was involved in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, dance team, National Honor Society, student council, science club, academic team, Mu Alpha Theta and Cherokee club. She also took Advance Placement classes in literature, U.S. history, calculus, physics and statistics. “I’m in the top 3 percent. I’m ranked No. 4 (in a class of about 300),” she said. “As the first of my mother’s children to go to college it means a lot to me that I was able to excel so greatly.” Reed said she’s dreamed of attending college outside of Oklahoma and that opportunities are more abundant elsewhere. “Once you get out you can see all the different diversity and the other options that are in this country for us, and I believe that once you gain different ideas and different opportunities from other places, when you come home it makes you appreciate home much more, and it gives you something different to bring back to your town.” Reed said. Other than her home, family and friends, she said she would miss the “small town life.” “I’m going to miss getting to walk down the street and see downtown. There’s not going to be the tight-knit sense of community that Tahlequah is. There’s going to be so much more people. It’s going to feel like that small town vibe is what I’m going to miss the most,” she said. She added that students like her should strive for higher educations. She also offered advice for when interviewing at colleges: be yourself. “Don’t feel like you have to act like someone else. Just be genuine and be who you are and let them see your character. They’re not looking to see that you know these large vocabulary words. They want to know that you’re a human being that has a passion for something. They’re looking to see that you’re involved in things and that you care about something.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/10/2016 01:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next Cherokee Speakers Bureau is from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 12 in the Community Ballroom located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee on the Tribal Complex. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. Officials said attendees could bring side dishes or desserts. For more information, call Edna Jones at 918-453-5151, John Ross at 918-453-6170 or Roy Boney Jr. at 918-453-5487.