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'Not in a million years.' School board member won't resign after cheerleader incident

Fresno Bee logoFresno Bee 7/21/2019 By Ashleigh Panoo, The Fresno Bee

Marinarde Soto, center, holds a sign as the Fresno Unified School Board meeting addresses board member Terry Slatic Thursday, July 18 2019 in Fresno.(ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/Fresno Bee/TNS) © (ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/Fresno Bee/TNS) Marinarde Soto, center, holds a sign as the Fresno Unified School Board meeting addresses board member Terry Slatic Thursday, July 18 2019 in Fresno.(ERIC PAUL ZAMORA/Fresno Bee/TNS) In the face of repeated calls to resign made by board members and the community, Fresno Unified trustee Terry Slatic refused to step down Thursday night during a special board meeting regarding his behavior on the Bullard High campus last week.

The three-hour special meeting turned tense numerous times with outbursts from parents and members of the community in the standing-room only crowd calling Slatic unstable and a threat to their children.

The latest incident involving Slatic centers around him scolding Bullard cheerleaders.

“Not in a million years,” Slatic told reporters when asked if he would resign.

Trustee Veva Islas said this is not the first time Slatic has caused concern over his actions.

Islas said Slatic has overstepped his boundaries many times, including an incident in January when Slatic was shown on campus surveillance video grabbing a Bullard student by his backpack on school campus.

The board ultimately voted Thursday to disapprove of Slatic’s conduct on July 11, when he arrived to a Bullard cheer practice and scolded cheerleaders for allegedly ostracizing two girls on the team who were involved in a social media posting where one wore blackface and said the n-word.

A Bullard cheerleader filed a restraining order against Slatic because of the incident at practice, but it was denied Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court.

The board voted to require Slatic have an escort on visits to Bullard High. The board also plans to move forward with censuring him, though it could not be done Thursday night because a resolution had not been drafted.

“I am disappointed we didn’t have it ready tonight,” Islas said. She did not know when the formal disapproval would be drafted, but she said she hoped by next week before board members leave for training.

She wanted families to know that the board cannot remove Slatic from his position, only voters can. The most the board can do is censure him.

Superintendent Bob Nelson was on vacation but listened to the meeting by phone. He did not make any comments.

Trustee Carol Mills said in her years on the board she has “never had a trustee who has engaged in these types of behavior. The number of complaints have never risen to this level.”

Board member Keshia Thomas called Slatic a bully to everyone: “You’ve bullied Bob. You’ve bullied the president” of the board, Claudia Cazares.

A 14-year-old from the cheer team addressed Slatic directly, telling him that just as she was beginning to heal from the blackface incident, “you came in and you were like a wrecking ball.”

Before Slatic was scheduled to respond to the board, several rows of people left the room and stated they did not want to hear him talk.

Some booed and shouted “Resign!”

Slatic remained stoic during public comment, and he did not address the cheer incident directly during his response to the board.

Instead, he called for “transparency” on other issues within the district.

He said the meeting “went exactly as I expected in every way, shape and form.”

“I want everything to come out,” he said, “about this district’s failings.”

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPanoo

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©2019 The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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