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
04/28/2016 04:00 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – Residents in the Muskogee area will have the chance to learn about the Cherokee culture by partaking in a 21-hour Cherokee Nation History and Humanities Course. The course, which is free and open to the public, will take place at the Three Rivers Health Center and is scheduled for Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from May 3 to June 14. The course will cover pre-European contact through modern day history of the Cherokee people. It will explore law and government, social structure, language and will give a multi-perspective introduction to Cherokee origins and traditions. Registration is not required, but encouraged. Educational materials and handouts will be provided but participants are encouraged to bring materials for note taking. For more information or to register, call Catherine Foreman-Gray at 918-453-5289 or email <a href="mailto: catherine-gray@cherokee.org">catherine-gray@cherokee.org</a>.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Media Specialist – @cp_rgraham
04/28/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Sequoyah High School Performing Arts instructor Amanda Ray and her cast and crew brought Broadway to the Cherokee Nation with performances of the acclaimed musical “West Side Story” on April 21-23 at The Place Where They Play gym. She said the musical, which happens to be her favorite, was impossible to produce until this year. “We held auditions back in February and we’ve worked two, three, sometimes four days a week in rehearsals.” Ray said. “I was never able to do ‘West Side Story’ before because it’s such a huge cast and almost all guys. There are two female roles and the rest is all about the Jets and the Sharks, the two street gangs. That’s a lot of guys on stage, and I hadn’t had that many boys in my department to pull it off. And then this year I had a lot of new talent come on to the stage, come into my classes, and once I saw I had that many people I thought I can try it this year.” Ray added, “It’s definitely the biggest show we’ve ever done, and I don’t just mean cast size. I mean the personalities on stage, the characters on stage, the students had to come out of their shell.” Ray said the total number of cast and crew was 50. “That’s the largest organization at this school,” she said. Junior Noah Scearce and sophomore Katelyn Morton respectively played the lead roles of Tony and Maria. “Mrs. Ray thought I’d be good for the part, and I like to sing. Tony sings a lot,” Scearce said. Morton, who has trained under Cherokee Nation citizen and opera star Barbara McAllister, described the role of Maria as multifaceted. “It’s been fun because I’ve always liked Maria’s character but also difficult because she’s a bit more silly than I am… hard to believe, but yeah.” Ray described the two leads as being wonderful students and actors, great singers and hard workers. Another standout was junior Maddie Lamb, who played Anita, a role made famous by Oscar-, Tony- and Grammy-winner Rita Moreno. “Anita is fun, energetic and quirky. I was glad I got the part because I’m kind of the same way.” Lamb said. “Mrs. Ray has worked tirelessly on this production. We helped but Mrs. Ray made this happen. We are all glad we have her to put these things together.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/27/2016 08:30 AM
NORMAN, Okla. – Cherokee Immersion Charter School students recently took home 18 trophies during the 14th annual Oklahoma Native Youth Language Fair for their use of the Cherokee language in verbal outlets. The students competed in spoken language, modern and traditional song, spoken prayer, spoken poetry, short film and a poster contest. The Native American Language department at the University of Oklahoma’s Sam Noble Museum hosted the competition that celebrates the use of Native languages in traditional and modern ways. According to a CN press release, the school won nine first-place trophies, six second-place trophies and three third-place trophies. “Every day our students are in the classroom learning to speak, read and write the same language as their ancestors so that we ensure it carries on,” Immersion School Principal Holly Davis said. “This competition allows our students to show the public their language proficiency and the pride in their culture, so we are excited to participate each year.” Dan Swan, interim curator for Native American Languages at the Sam Noble Museum, said this year they had 1,100 students compete. He added that it was the largest number of students to compete in the Native language competition so far. Swan said the two-day event also set a record high with nearly 3,400 people in attendance. “There were dozens of languages represented, and the fair has become a key part of our identity in the Native community,” said Swan. “The fair has a huge support base, from financial sponsors to all the judges who come from tribal communities, and who are speakers, that work with us for months to make it happen.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/26/2016 04:00 PM
COLCORD, Okla. – On April 30, authors Jack and Pat Fletcher will be at the Talbot Library and Museum to discuss their three-volume series “Cherokee Trail Diaries.” The event will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Springtown Schoolhouse on the museum’s property. According to a press release, the Fletcher’s will be presenting information on the status of the Cherokee Trail, along with new trail evidence and the work of groups from Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. For more information, call 918-326-4532 or email <a href="mailto: talbotlibrary@earthlink.net">talbotlibrary@earthlink.net</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/22/2016 04:15 PM
NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma College of Law recently announced a new endowed scholarship for its students. The Frank and Lucille Pope Endowed Scholarship, established by the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Lucille Pope Jr., is more than $620,000 and will generate approximately $31,050 annually to be awarded to eligible students, with a preference given to Native Americans, specifically of Cherokee descent. “Frank and Lucille’s powerful gift helps OU Law remain affordable for the most-talented and deserving students,” said OU Law Dean Joseph Harroz Jr. “Their preference for the scholarship monies to be awarded to Native American students further emphasizes our College’s commitment to making a legal education accessible to all. We are grateful for their thoughtful support of OU Law and are honored to be a part of their legacy.” Frank Pope Jr. was born in Tulsa in 1926 to Frank Pope Sr. and Johanna Chambers Pope. His mother was of Cherokee descent and Frank took great pride in his Native American heritage. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Business in 1950. He later earned his law degree from the OU College of Law in 1956. He served in the Army during World War II and as an attorney with the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. Lucille Pope was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in 1926 to Charles Stout and Blanche Dissinger Stout. After her rural upbringing, Lucille chose to become a secretary and eventually relocated to Washington, D.C. where she served as secretary to the chief of Chaplains for the Army and later at the Pentagon in the office of Gen. Omar Bradley. Frank Jr. and Lucille married in 1974 and lived in northern Virginia until they retired in 1981. They spent their retirement traveling worldwide, playing tennis and enjoying fine dining. He passed away in 2012 and She passed away in 2015. Founded in 1909, the OU College of Law has small sections and class sizes that encourage a strong sense of community, accomplished faculty with international expertise and a state-of-the-art facility featuring multimedia study rooms, court rooms and classrooms equipped with the latest technology. As Oklahoma’s only public law school, the OU College of Law is the academic home of more than 500 students enrolled in the juris doctor program, the John B. Turner Master of Laws Program, the master of legal studies program and various dual degree programs. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.law.ou.edu" target="_blank">law.ou.edu</a>.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/21/2016 12:15 PM
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior announced on April 12 that an additional $4.8 million has been transferred to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund, bringing the amount contributed to almost $39 million. The fund – funded in part by the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations and authorized by the Cobell settlement – provides financial assistance through scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native students wishing to pursue post-secondary and graduate education and training. The Cobell board of trustees manages and oversees the fund, which will be administered this coming academic year by Indigenous Education Inc., a nonprofit corporation created to administer the program. During the fund’s inaugural year, approximately $2 million was awarded in graduate and undergraduate scholarships to nearly 400 highly qualified American Indian students. Applications and information concerning scholarships can be found at <a href="http://www.cobellscholar.org" target="_blank">www.cobellscholar.org</a>. “This scholarship fund is opening doors for Native American students across Indian Country to pursue their dreams in the 21st century workplace and prepare themselves for leadership through higher education,” said Interior Solicitor Hilary Tompkins, who negotiated the Cobell settlement on behalf of the Interior. “The program carries out the vision of Elouise Cobell to enhance lifetime opportunities for American Indians and Alaskan Native students and is a key to advancing self-determination for tribal nations.” Cobell board of trustees Chairman Alex Pearl said: “The Cobell board of trustees is committed to carrying on the legacy of Elouise Cobell. Our focus is on the prudent investment and management of our funds so that generations to come may benefit from Elouise’s leadership and courage. We are excited to continue developing a first-rate 21st century scholarship program responsive to the needs of individual Indians. As was the case for Elouise, this fund focuses on individual Indians, not tribal governments, and enhancing the educational opportunities available to them throughout their academic careers. The Buy-Back Program has thus far paid more than $740 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments. Interior makes quarterly transfers to the scholarship fund as a result of program sales, up to a total of $60 million. The amount contributed is based on a formula set forth in the Cobell settlement that sets aside a certain amount of funding depending on the value of the fractionated interests sold. These contributions do not reduce the amount that an owner will receive.