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Chicken Ranch Suspended Donations To Sonora High Following Incidents

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Sonora, CA — Recently Chicken Ranch Rancheria Tribal Chairman Lloyd Mathiesen delivered a letter to Sonora High School to inform the board and administration that the Tribe is suspending its charitable giving to the high school.

In a follow-up interview with Clarke Broadcasting, Mathiesen says it is primarily in response to the handling of the incident involving former girls basketball coach Amy Emerald who pleaded guilty to lewd acts with a child and other related crimes while she was employed by the district. Sonora High later agreed to pay a $3.5 million settlement to the victim because of how the investigation was improperly handled.

Sonora High was also in the news in September for two other investigations, one involving a staff member, and the other involving explicit material that was circulating.

Mathiesen says, “Our stance is to protect the kids. There are policies that need to change.”

The letter to the district, dated December 11, specifically states, “We are requesting that School Leadership formally address and implement a zero-tolerance policy directed to ending sexual abuse, grooming, and misconduct by school employees towards students.”

It continues, “Leadership, specifically the School Board and School Administration, have a duty to protect all students, as they govern and regulate staff behavior. They have a responsibility to monitor activities occurring on the Sonora High Campus and engage in the appropriate responses to those activities.”

Mathiesen says some positive developments have occurred in recent days. Adding, “Since we dropped off that letter just over a week ago, I have had a meeting with Ed Pelfrey (Sonora High Superintendent), and he has shown me a lot of stuff that they have done, and things that they have in the works. We are pleased with what they have, on the surface, moving forward. It doesn’t mean that we are going to go back to it (donations), but it is pleasing that they have the same goal.”

More will be known over the coming weeks. Mathiesen hopes changes will materialize, adding, “We always want to support the community and the high school.”

The Tribe has been a long-time generous donor to various community initiatives and projects throughout Tuolumne County.