Tahlequah Daily Press

November 27, 2012

Former Sequoyah staff members file suit

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Three former tenured staff at Sequoyah Schools have filed a wrongful termination suit against the Cherokee Nation, Principal Chief Bill John Baker, Chief Of Staff Chuck Hoskin Sr. and CN Executive Director of Education Neil Morton.

According to court documents filed in Cherokee Nation District Court, Geary Don Crofford, Teresia Knott and Louie Jackson are seeking employment reinstatement and both general and punitive damages.

The suit states the plaintiffs were denied pre-termination due process as provided by the Cherokee Nation Constitution and the defendants “perpetuated a fraud ... by promoting a subterfuge referred to as a ‘reorganization’ to terminate their employment” without the proper authority.

The lawsuit asserts the three employees received termination memos, which were left on their desks on June  15, as well as two weeks later by certified mail on July 3, both of which reflected the termination date as June 30.

“Defendants breached the purported Employment Agreements with plaintiffs by failing to provide 30 days’ notice as required by the employment agreements,” states the suit.

Crofford is the former dean of academics at Sequoyah Schools, Knott is the former dean of leadership, and Jackson is former dean of students. The three are being represented by Chad Smith, former Cherokee Nation principal chief.

This is the second wrongful termination suit leveled against the Baker administration, the first was dismissed, with the court ruling the complaints were barred by sovereign immunity.

“We have faith in the Cherokee Nation courts and are confident they will find this case to be without merit,” said CN Communications Director Amanda Clinton.