OPS School Board President Resigns

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email

Freddie Gray, board president for Omaha Public Schools has resigned. On Wednesday night, the board voted to replace the president position with Marian Fey.

Standing with her husband, Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray, inside their North Omaha home Wednesday afternoon, Freddie said it was a very tough decision, but she wanted to be fair to herself, her family and the residents of District 2.

“Throughout my tenure on the board I've been offered numerous opportunities and I've turned them down and I had one that just came my way from out of the blue and it's a great opportunity for me and this one I'm not turning down.”

She would not reveal her new employer, but said the company will make an announcement soon. Gray had served on the board since 2008.

Gray said the decision had nothing to do with the recent scandals facing her.

"I think one thing people don't understand is to be a really good board members - it takes 20-30 hours a week. And that's to be a good board member."

School board members are not paid.

In her resignation letter, Gray said by leaving, now, it gives the board adequate time to fill her District 2 position by appointment without the need for a special election.

Replacing Gray as president will take a little more work. “To my understanding the vice president becomes the president and you run new elections for vice president,” said Dave Patton with Omaha Public Schools. “I've also been told they can vote to suspend the rules and actually vote to reelect a whole new slate of officers.”

Wednesday night, it took 90-minutes for the board in both private and public session to figure out how to proceed when someone resigns as president.

Members also took a moment to thank Mrs. Gray for her public service.

"She is a tireless advocate for young people and I appreciate the time I had with her on the board," said Marian Fey.

"I want to publicly thank Mrs. Gray for all the work for the district and wish her the best," said Justin Wayne.

Earlier this month, Gray faced a lengthy vote among board members to retain the presidency. Thirty times board members cast separate ballots, but in the end she survived the challenge.

Last August, Mrs. Gray faced a "no confidence" vote from the board, but it also failed. Some members wanted to strip her of the leadership position because they believed she and the district attorney withheld information connected to newly-hired superintendent Nancy Sebring, who soon resigned over an email scandal at her previous job in Des Moines.

Gray then told Channel 6 News, "I know that I'm a good leader. I know there's some people that may have questions and I will work with them as I always have...I know that what I did was based on the best information I had at that time and on the advice I was given."

Earlier this month, Channel 6 News learned that the Internal Revenue Service has filed three liens against her and her husband for non-payment of taxes. Documents obtained from the Douglas County Register of Deeds show the couple has outstanding back taxes dating from 1996 through 2011 in the amount of $60,366.08.

At the time, Councilman Gray told Channel 6 News, "It takes a little time to work your way out of it. We'll do what we have to do" to get the issue resolved. He said they have paid back some of the debt and currently owe just under $50,000.


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