Education

Fresno Unified releases second report, details new misconduct by trustee against coaches

Watch testimony against FUSD trustee Terry Slatic

Many community members criticized Unified School Board member Terry Slatic at Thursday night's board meeting.
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Many community members criticized Unified School Board member Terry Slatic at Thursday night's board meeting.

Fresno Unified on Thursday released the second of two reports from investigations into misconduct by Trustee Terry Slatic, showing Slatic had continued his misbehavior despite a scolding letter from the superintendent earlier this year.

Slatic has been under scrutiny for much of the year, first following an altercation with a Bullard High School student in January and then again earlier this month when he scolded Bullard cheerleaders during a practice.

The cheerleader encounter led to calls for his resignation at a special board meeting last week. When asked then if he planned to step down, Slatic replied: “Not in a million years.”

Last week, FUSD issued its first report on Slatic’s conduct, related to a confrontation he had on the Bullard campus with an Army recruiter in January. That report concluded the trustee violated three board policies.

The second report stems from a confrontation Slatic had with Bullard wrestling coaches during which Slatic demanded the coaches stop a joint wrestling practice with Clovis East High. Slatic’s son was on the Bullard team and a Clovis East wrestler in the same weight class who was expected to wrestle Slatic’s son would also be at the practice.

During an exchange Feb. 11 at the parking lot of the Central High School campus following another joint wrestling practice, Slatic asked to speak with Bullard’s coach and an assistant coach.

When the coaches refused to give into Slatic’s demands to stop the practice, Slatic reportedly became “volatile,” according to the investigation report prepared by Southern California legal firm Adams Silva & McNally LLP.

Slatic reportedly raised his voice and appeared “hostile, degrading and intimidating,” the report states from interviews with the involved coaches.

The encounter then turned into intimidation on behalf of Slatic, according to the report. An assistant wrestling coach, who initiated the complaint against Slatic, said Slatic made a threatening statement about his employment aspirations. The assistant coach had mentioned to Slatic prior to the incident that he was interested in applying for a management position within the district.

But during the confrontation, Slatic reportedly told the assistant coach “I will look for your application across my desk.” The assistant coach told investigators he took that to mean Slatic could prevent him from getting a job in the district.

The joint practice between Bullard and Clovis East, which had been established weeks before and was set for the next day, was eventually canceled.

Private investigators concluded in the report released by the school board Thursday that Slatic appears to have violated three board rules, all dealing with conduct and board member functions.

“Trustee failed to act with dignity and likely failed to understand the implications of his demeanor and behavior,” the report states. “Trustee’s threat to complainant’s future employment represents a lack of understanding of the difference between the role of the board and the role of the staff.”

The first of the two reports was released July 19 after the board had voted last week to make the reports public.

The report released Thursday includes a letter from Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson. It appears Slatic’s confrontation on Feb. 11 came after the superintendent had already sent him a letter showing “deep concern” about his actions since his election to the board.

Some of his actions have been widely reported in the news and others, like the incident with the Bullard coaches, were made public more recently. Nelson told Slatic in the letter that his misbehavior brings “serious risk of liability” for the district.

“You also routinely insert yourself into meetings at which your attendance has not been requested and where it is not appropriate,” Nelson wrote to Slatic on Jan. 15.

The Bee attempted to reach Slatic for comment, but he has not yet responded.

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Cresencio Rodriguez-Delgado is a general assignment reporter at The Fresno Bee. He grew up in Porterville and has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Fresno State. He is a former student editor at the Fresno State and Fresno City College newspapers. His hobbies include reading, sleeping, running and taking care of his dog.
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