Contentious OPS Board Meeting
Extra Police Officers Called For Back-up
Extra Police Officers Called For Back-up Video by kmtv.comvideo
Omaha, NE -- No public comments at one of the most contentious school board meetings we've ever seen. President Freddie Gray refused to allow taxpayers to speak their minds, even her husband Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray got in the middle of the debate forcing security to call the police.
Freddie Gray said, "We're now going into executive session."
Taxpayer Michael Moran shouted, "Would you explain to me why you're not opening this up to the public."
Councilman Ben Gray stood-up walked to the front of the crowd and said to the board, "Y'all go into executive session that's what you're going to do."
Michael Moran looked at OPS President Freddie Gray and said, "Well that's pathetic. You are pathetic."
Councilman Gray quickly responded to Moran, "You don't tell my wife she's pathetic don't you do that."
OPS Board of Education Members called the special meeting to discuss the latest developments involving the resignation of Dr. Nancy Sebring. The superintendent quit before her contract even began because racy emails surfaced from Des Moines. The scandal hasn't died. Two Omaha School Board officials knew about the emails and some critics believe they were not forthright about the information.
One word might best describe the current state of the OPS Board of Education - divided. During Monday morning's meeting board member Marian Fey said, "I do not believe it was the intention of Mrs. Gray to mislead the board."
Bambi Bartek also supports Gray. She said she has more than total support, "what else could you do. There was nothing else you could do."
Many board members are divided. Shirley Tyree isn't sure what needs to be done to fix all the problems. "I support and I'm leery at the same time," said Tyree while addressing Gray.
Kersten Borer also voiced support for the previous achievements that Freddie Gray has helped OPS get to. Borer wants to see more done. "I do respect Mrs. Gray as a person, however I do feel that it would be in this boards best interest to vote on a new president at this time," said the board member.
Board member Sandra Jensen told the board she heard about the rumors from people within Des Moines Public Schools and asked Gray if it was true. Jensen informed the board that OPS' Attorney and Freddie Gray said "no" multiple times. "I found it disconcerning to read that we were held information that I specifically had heard that this was out there and I specifically went to both you and the attorney and you both looked me in the eyes and said no this is not happening. And that still is troubling," she said.
Nancy Kratky explained voters in her district are outraged. "The trust from the community is nil where I'm concerned. I have had more phone calls on this than anything in all these years I've been on the board. One gentleman said I'm not curious. I'm furious," said Kratky.
While everyone was focused on whether or not Freddie Gray should have spoken-up or not, OPS board member Justin Wayne questioned what national candidate would even apply to work at OPS without new leadership. "We have in-house fighting, now public fighting. We have threats of against us from all different types of ways that's out in public. As much as I think Mrs. Gray has moved this board along in tremendous ways, the community deserves someone who can restore credibility at this," he said.
After the OPS Board adjourned for the day Liz Dorland asked Freddie Gray, "Do you feel that you did anything wrong and that you need to be replaced?"
She responded, "Individuals can make their decisions based on the information that was erroneous and incomplete. I think people need to hear the entire story. Do I plan on resigning and stepping down? No."
Members of the public we spoke with are angry they did not get a chance to comment. Doug Kagan with Nebraska for Taxpayers Freedom wanted to tell Freddie Gray all information regarding Dr. Sebring and OPS should be made transparent to other board members. "We just feel that what Freddie Gray did here this morning compounded her mistakes in the past where she's tried to muzzle the public," Kagan said.
Board members said there's no public comment period at special called meetings. Taxpayers will have a chance to speak at next Monday's meeting at 6:30p.m.
After executive session on Monday, the board did vote to extend a contract to Ralston's former Superintendent Dr. Virginia Moon for the Interim Superintendent position. The contract hasn't been drawn-up and signed.
Reported By: Liz Dorland, email@example.com