Freddie Gray makes it official, steps down from Omaha school board

Freddie Gray submitted a three-page resignation letter, two pages of which listed her accomplishments.


The Omaha school board is poised for a change in leadership. Board President Freddie Gray has resigned from the school board, according to a late report Tuesday.

The agenda for tonight’s board meeting was amended Monday to include discussion about the future of the president as well as election of officers.

Gray, who usually attends every school board and committee meeting, has been absent from every session since she was re-elected president Jan. 7 after 30 rounds of voting.

She missed last week’s committee meetings as well as a recent special meeting the board called to discuss the contract of its future superintendent. She also was absent from Wednesday’s committee meetings.

Earlier in the week, Gray asked Marian Fey, the board vice president, to set tonight's agenda. KETV reported late Tuesday that Gray has accepted a new job and that she will leave the board. Fey said she included the topic of the presidency on the agenda because it was an issue the board wanted to discuss. She would not elaborate further.

Gray did not return calls Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Fey and several other board members said Wednesday they had not seen a letter of resignation. Several other board members echoed that.

Interim Superintendent Virginia Moon was in committee meetings Wednesday and was unavailable for comment, but OPS spokesman David Patton said the district had not received a letter of resignation.

In August, Gray withstood a vote to remove her over how she handled the Nancy Sebring emails.

Gray and the board's legal counsel didn't tell other board members that Sebring, OPS's superintendent-to-be, had resigned from her last job after she sent racy emails to her lover on a school computer.

Sebring resigned from the Omaha job when the emails became public.

Board members voted 8-4 to keep Gray as president. Her supporters praised her for reaching out to community organizations and for preparing the district for long-term planning.

Other board actions under Gray's leadership have come into question over the past year as well.

Earlier this month, the board apparently violated a state law by waiting too long to swear in its new board members.

According to state law, the board must swear in newly elected board members “before the first Monday in January.”

Instead, the four new and two returning board members took the oath of office Jan. 7 — the first Monday in January — before the board's regularly scheduled meeting that night.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has said he will look into whether OPS violated state law.

Last September, Gray and other board members were surprised by a $1million retirement payout to Superintendent John Mackiel.

The payout was written into Mackiel's contract years ago, but board members — and the district's finance staff — were caught off-guard by the amount.

In addition to the OPS controversies, Gray and her husband, Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray, face financial trouble.

The couple owed almost $50,000 to the federal government in back income taxes earlier this month.

The Grays had three outstanding liens that the Internal Revenue Service filed with the Douglas County Register of Deeds Office.

The liens listed $60,366.08 in unpaid taxes from 13 years, extending from 1996 to 2011.

Ben Gray, though, said the couple have been paying off the debt and are caught up through 2000. He said they still owed about $49,000 as of Jan. 9.

The couple also recently agreed to increase how much they pay back monthly, he said, and plan to have their debts paid off by 2016.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1074, jonathon.braden@owh.com, twitter.com/jonathonbraden

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