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 TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
06/09/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With Oklahoma public schools facing massive budget cuts next fiscal year, Lee Ann Reeves, a Cherokee Nation citizen who teaches seventh and eighth grade language arts at Oklahoma Union, said she appreciated the chance to earn free professional development hours at the tribe’s Teachers of Successful Students conference June 7-8 at Northeastern State University. “At our school we offer our own professional development for us to get our hours, but a lot of teachers go outside of that to get enrichment,” Reeves said. “When the schools see something that is free they are all for you going.” Reeves said being a teacher at a school with Cherokee students she wanted to get more information on how to be a better teacher and how to incorporate more strategies in the classroom. “We have a lot of kids who have tribal cards that go to our school, and so I want to better inform them of some of the Cherokee Nation offerings,” she said. “It shows me different strategies I can use to reach the students who may need a little different way to reach them, strategies I haven’t seen before, I haven’t used, from my instructors as well as other teachers who are in the classroom with me.” Now in its fourth year, the TOSS conference offers professional development workshops for teachers at public schools located in the tribe’s jurisdiction. The tribe’s Education Services held the conference for at least 150 teachers at NSU’s University Center. Dr. Gloria Sly, Education Services education liaison, said the initiative is provided through the tribe’s Motor Vehicle Tax funding so that public schoolteachers can focus on areas where schools receive failing grades from the Oklahoma Department of Education. “It was based on the public schools’ need to have professional development in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) areas because that’s where a lot of them were really failing or receiving F’s, and so we thought we could assist the public schoolteachers and make it accessible to them in this 14-county area because our little schools have just taken cuts and taken cuts, and it’s harder for them to pay for their teachers to go to attend a professional development,” Sly said. She said the conference also focused on reading and had 79 workshops for five school groups: early childhood, elementary, middle school, junior high and high school. The workshops varied in length from 45 minutes to two hours, and the conference was completely self-contained for convenience, Sly said. “We keep them self-contained in this building from beginning to end because one year we tried it where they would have to go to another building for a workshop, and all those that traveled back and forth got lost. We ended up with a very small population at the end of the day. So now we keep them in one building,” she said. Sly added that the tribe pays for housing so teachers who have to drive longer distances don’t have to leave town or pay for hotel rooms. “We pay for housing for those that come from up north like Nowata, Bluejacket. They come down here and they stay in seminary suites. We pay for that. Northeastern is a partner. As a partner they give us a very good rate. So they’ll come in Tuesday night, the night before, and be here and leave the last day,” she said. Carrie Steele, a CN citizen and math teacher at Kansas High School, said she appreciated that the conference was free and a short drive for her. “There is hardly any free training anymore and especially close to home. We always have to go to Tulsa or Oklahoma City. Tahlequah is a great place to have a meeting,” Steele said. Sly said many teachers get most, if not all, of their professional development for the whole year at the conference. “Because they have to have 15 hours of professional development, we have 15, 16 hours here,” she said. “What it all boils down to is the achievement of a lot of Cherokee students. We want them to have the best education they can. In order to have the best education they have to have the best teachers. In order to help those teachers to be able to reach our students we do this.” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said with the TOSS conference the tribe has assumed a role in giving teachers better tools to teach Cherokee youth. “As we prepare our citizens for a growing global economy, it’s critical to have a strong academic foundation. TOSS is a unique gathering because it is a chance to share what truly works in classrooms as we try to better engage kids and spark that interest in lifelong learning,” he said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
06/07/2016 02:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Three Cherokee Nation citizens were recently named Students of Excellence by the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission during the 39th annual Tulsa Public Schools Academic Awards Banquet. Evan Barton of Booker T. Washington High School, Nikki Prince of Daniel Webster High School and Haley Neel of Tulsa MET High School were three of seven graduating seniors from the Tulsa area to receive the for their outstanding achievements in and out of the classroom. The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission presents the awards to Native American students annually based on recommendations made by the students’ high school administrators and the Tulsa Public Schools Indian Education staff. The other 2016 Student of Excellence award winners are: • Chance Lamho, Muscogee Creek, East Central High School; • Thomas Scott, Muscogee Creek, Edison Preparatory High School; • Victoria Carney-Peters, Choctaw, Tulsa Memorial High School; and • Anthony Barnett, Muscogee Creek, Will Rogers High School. The Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission’s primary mission is the advancement of American Indian culture and heritage and/or the provision of services to American Indians.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/31/2016 12:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Nicolas Crear, a 17-year-old junior at Union High School, spent the first few days of May serving as an Oklahoma House of Representative page for Rep. Regina Goodwin as part of the House of Representative Page Program. “A select few high school students get picked from different parts of Oklahoma to aid a senator or a House representative,” he said. “We sit at this desk and when the phone rings they tell us to go run this errand in the House or in the Senate. We’re pretty much running all over the state Capitol just doing errands for senators or representatives.” Crear said he previously was a page for Oklahoma Sen. Anastasia Pittman, so he was excited to serve for Goodwin and see what the House had to offer. “I was on the floor a little bit more this time because in the Senate I think they were like starting to slow down in this session. It was like one of the last weeks when they didn’t have too many bills to pass,” he said. “So, on the House side there were a lot more bills. We spent like, I think, three hours on the floor one day.” Crear said next year he hopes to be a page for the Oklahoma Senate again. “I would like to do a little bit more on the Senate side because it’s not as many people and you get to do more jobs because when there’s like 28 kids or something like that work is distributed. Everyone does a good amount of work, but I just wish I could have did a little bit more,” he said. Crear said the opportunities he has received to serve as a page for both the Oklahoma Senate and House have given him new educational experiences. He added that he suggests others his age try becoming a page. “I think it’s important for teenagers to understand why these things or how these bills get passed because it just doesn’t happen over night,” he said. “I highly suggest that someone should try this out because if we’re going to want to better our community we need to know what goes on to passing a bill and we need to be just a little more educated on how government works.” What is a Student Spotlight? A Student Spotlight is a 200-to-400-word feature on a Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band or Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen who is a student, whether they are in grades kindergarten through 12 or higher education, either excelling in school or doing something out of the ordinary. How do I recommend a student for the Student Spotlight series? To recommend a student, email stacie-guthrie@cherokee.org with the student’s name, contact information and a brief summary of why he or she should be chosen.
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>.