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 ASSOCIATED PRESS
02/26/2015 02:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) – A local family, dedicated to the support of Native American communities, presented the endowed “Live an Honest Day” challenge scholarship of $25,000 to Rogers State University during the recent Claremore Chamber of Commerce Gridiron. The Bickford family endowment to RSU was established for Native American students who plan to go into careers involving science, technology, engineering and/or math (STEM). Community members and businesses have been asked to join in the challenge by donating toward the scholarship. The endowment was established in memory of Paul Bickford, a longtime resident and supporter of Claremore, who died from a vehicle accident in April 2013. Paul was an advocate for Native American organizations, specifically the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). [BLOCKQUOTE]Owner of Cherokee Data Solutions Pamela Bickford, said her husband (Paul) understood that by instilling the love of STEM in today’s youth, brightens the future of tomorrow. For almost a decade, the Bickfords have sponsored AISES in Rogers County, increasing the representation of Native Americans in STEM through pre-college, college and professional programs. In addition to AISES, Paul Bickford judged VEX Robotics competitions locally, and at the national level as a lead judge for the VEX World Championship events. “Paul’s life’s work was dedicated to future generations,” said Pamela. “Currently, Native American drop-out rates, as well as poverty, drug abuse, domestic abuse and suicide rates are alarmingly high. It’s concerning to us as Native Americans, and so it made sense as a family to share Paul’s life mission — to encourage success among youth, particularly Native American students.” Individuals and businesses wanting to accept the “Live an Honest Day” challenge, can visit any RCB Bank location and donate directly to the PFB Live an Honest Day Foundation. “There’s no amount that’s too much or too little. Individuals, corporations and foundations are stepping up to join us in the essence of Paul’s mission for students in STEM,” Pamela said. “Our family stands in awe of everyone’s generosity, and more, that the future matters.”
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
02/26/2015 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – As part of the Motor Fuel Tax compact the Cherokee Nation has with Oklahoma, every three months the tribe invests approximately $483,000, or 25 percent of its quarterly rebate check from the state, into the tribe’s Education Reserve Fund. Created in 2000, the fund holds approximately $36.4 million, according to CN records. “This reserve was created to be a source of funds that would enable us to fulfill our commitment to current Cherokee higher education students in the event that all other funding ceased or was otherwise unavailable,” CN Treasurer Lacey Horn said. In the event the tribe was unable to successfully renegotiate a compact with the state, the fund was created to replace the tribe’s MFT funding for scholarships. The current MFT compact is set to expire July 1, 2017. However, even if it does expire and is not renewed the tribe will still be able to utilize the reserve fund. “The reserve was created for a purpose independent of the compact,” Horn said. According to Legislative Act 8-00, the reserve is not to be used until 2017. The funds for current CN scholarships come from separate funding appropriations. At the end of the MFT compact, the interest from the monies deposited shall be used for higher education scholarships. “Any usage of the reserve would be for the sole purpose of providing higher education scholarships,” Horn said. CN Education Services Senior Advisor Dr. Neil Morton said the tribe funded 3,400 scholarships for the 2014 fall semester, and in August Tribal Councilors approved a $2.5 million increase for CN Education Services in college scholarships for Cherokee students. In 2011, the state’s quarterly checks to the CN ranged from $1.8 million to $1.9 million. Today, they range from $1.9 million to $2.1 million. With 25 percent going to the Education Reserve Fund, the remaining 75 percent is allocated for other education programs, roads, health and law enforcement, which are set by the annual budget appropriations.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/24/2015 11:18 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Foundation will help Cherokee high school juniors and seniors prepare for the upcoming ACT exams with free prep classes that will begin the first week of March and conclude the week of the National ACT exam in mid-April. “These classes give our students an opportunity to prepare for the ACT, while they gain valuable test-taking skills that will help them throughout their academic career,” Janice Randall, CNF executive director, said. “We want every student to prepare to the best of their ability so they may have the opportunity to attend the school of their choice.” The six-week course is offered at Indian Capital Technology Centers in Tahlequah and Muskogee and at Carl Albert State College in Sallisaw. Curriculum will include interactive instruction by a Princeton Review instructor and three practice tests. Tahlequah classes will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays. Muskogee classes will be from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, and Sallisaw classes will be from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays. Students interested in the course can pick up registration forms from their high school guidance counselors or call the CNF at 918-207-0950. The deadline to enroll is Feb. 27.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/11/2015 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – Junior Achievement’s BizTown recently received a visit from approximately 200 fifth grade students from Tahlequah Public Schools. The visit consisted of the students running a mock town and gaining knowledge about the global economy. The effort to bring students to the town is part of an ongoing partnership between Cherokee Nation Businesses, Cherokee Nation Foundation and Junior Achievement to help Cherokee students increase their financial literacy skills. “This year we are pleased to have the opportunity to offer this program to more schools within the Cherokee Nation,” CNF Executive Director Janice Randall said. “JA BizTown provides students the perfect environment to blend classroom learning and hands-on application. It’s a wonderful experience and one that all of our students should have the opportunity to enjoy.” Before students arrived to BizTown they completed three weeks worth of classroom courses to prepare for the visit. They also applied and interviewed for jobs within the town and even set up personal bank accounts in the city designed for children. “When we watched the students begin their day in BizTown, it was clear that the prep work we had done in the classroom had really paid off. The students were educated about their job function and understood that every job was of equal importance,” said Heritage Elementary Principal Lacie Davenport. “As educators, we are always searching for ways to get the students engaged in their lessons, and BizTown was the perfect place for them to see their curriculum come to life.” In 2014 approximately 1,500 students from the CN participated in an assortment of JA programs, which was approximately four times the amount of students in the previous year. CNF estimates it will sponsor approximately 800 students to visit BizTown during the spring semester. Aside from the various mock businesses in JA BizTown there is a replicated Cherokee Phoenix space where children create a paper containing the day’s events. According to a Cherokee Nation press release, Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to preparing students for workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through hands-on programming. JA BizTown was first introduced to the Tulsa market in the fall of 2002. Only 28 markets in the United States provide the unique learning opportunity.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/06/2015 09:39 AM
TULSA, Okla. – Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism is awarding grants to schools to increase the knowledge of Cherokee history and culture for elementary students. According to tourism officials, “funding is on a first-come, first-served basis.” “Schools that do not meet the requirements or miss the deadline may experience the program for a small fee. Applications are available beginning Feb. 9 online at www.VisitCherokeeNation.com until Feb. 27, or until all available field trips have been filled for fall,” a tourism press release stated. This is the sixth year for the grant program. “Minimum requirements for eligibility for schools include being located within the Cherokee Nation’s 14-county jurisdiction, a majority of the school’s students must hold a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (C.D.I.B.) card, the school’s class size may not exceed tour capacity, and the majority of the school’s students must be eligible for free and/or reduced school lunches,” the release stated. “The grant-sponsored tours, available for grades third through sixth, are designed to promote priority academic student skills (P.A.S.S.) in various subjects while providing an authentic look into Cherokee heritage. Cherokee Nation has also arranged for special tour rates for seventh through 12th grade and college students.” Twenty tours will be presented this semester. Fifteen of those will be specifically for schools in jurisdiction. The remaining five tours will be made for schools outside the jurisdiction. “Tour groups must be limited to 60 students, with special circumstances taken into consideration. One adult chaperone for every 10 students during the tour is required at all times. Each school can qualify for a grant once per tour season, but can participate in the education tours as often as desired through separate funding,” the release states. The program features three tours including the Cherokee History Tour, The Will Rogers Tour and the Civil War Tour. “In addition to the education tours, a variety of add-ons are available for an additional fee, including transportation on a 22-passenger shuttle bus, box lunches and cultural activities such as basket weaving, pottery and mini stickball making,” the release states. “The students and/or school will provide lunch, water and/or snacks unless prearranged at sign-up.” The tourism group created an educational curriculum with is available to teachers during registration. “The teacher’s curriculum guide is designed to serve as a teaching tool to prepare students for the education tour. Teachers will find more than 30 pages of historical information to share with their students. A student activity book has been created that corresponds to the teacher’s curriculum guide,” the release states. “The goal of the activity book is to prepare students for the tour by giving them background information beforehand so they can fully benefit from the information and experiences they will encounter on the tour while also meeting the state of Oklahoma’s P.A.S.S. objectives.” For more information or to book a tour call 918-384-7787.
BY STAFF REPORTS
02/01/2015 04:00 PM
RAPID CITY, S.D. – The American Indian Education Foundation has set April 4 as its student scholarship deadline. The AIEF seeks students of all ages who are focused on their educational goals and who demonstrate the ability to make positive change in their communities and in modern society. It expands opportunities for students to attend and remain in tribal or non-tribal colleges by providing educational leadership and networking services. Along with scholarships, AIEF also offers services such as the Tools of the Trade, Emergency Funds and School Supplies. Through Tools of the Trade, the AIEF offers small grants to vocational/technical schools so they can provide professional supplies to Native American students. The Emergency Funds service provides small grants to selected colleges, which can then assist students with expenses that might otherwise threaten their ability to stay in school. With its Schools Supplies service, the AIEF each fall distributes basic school supplies for young Native Americans in preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools serving reservations in the Northern Plains and Southwest. The program also helps vocational and technical schools provide professional supplies for Native American students who choose to learn a trade. The AIEF follows up on the School Supplies service by providing scholarships to Indian peoples pursuing higher education. The AIEF is one of America’s largest grantors of scholarships to Native Americans, supporting more than 225 students each year. For more information or to fill out a scholarship application, visit <a href="http://www.nrcprograms.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_index" target="_blank">http://www.nrcprograms.org/site/PageServer?pagename=aief_index</a>.