Freddie Gray makes it official, steps down from Omaha school board -
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 4:11 pm
Freddie Gray makes it official, steps down from Omaha school board

The resignation Wednesday of Freddie Gray from the Omaha school board elevated Marian Fey to the board's presidency. It also will set up a process to fill the board vacancy.

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

Her departure capped a stormy year marked by two superintendent searches, and a failed vote last summer to remove Gray as president over her handling of the Nancy Sebring email controversy.

Gray had been re-elected the school board president as recently as Jan. 7, but it required 30 rounds of voting.

The Omaha Public Schools board accepted her resignation at its regular meeting and praised Gray for her work.

“I also want to thank Mrs. Gray for her service, not just on the Board of Education, for all she has done and I'm sure will continue to do,” Fey said.

With Gray's departure, Fey automatically became the board's president. The board then elected Mary Morrissey as vice president in one round of voting.

Gray, who did not attend the meeting, has taken a position with a new company, according to the resignation letter. She did not specify the company.

She said the position would not allow her to continue performing her duties as a school board member effectively.

Among her accomplishments, Gray listed helping the district improve its graduation rate and including the community in the board's recent superintendent search.

Reached at her home Wednesday afternoon, Gray declined to comment.

“This is my house,” she said. “I have no need to talk to you.”

In the letter, Gray said: “I have sincerely enjoyed my time in public service and am humbled by the placement of this public trust in my hands by the citizens.”

Before formally accepting the resignation, the board voted to go into closed session with Baird Holm attorneys P. Scott Dye and David Kramer to talk about “board processes.”

The board remained in executive session for an hour while about 20 people in the audience waited.

Gray represented north Omaha's Subdistrict 2. State law dictates that the board appoint a qualified registered voter to take her spot on the board.

Gray had been president since January 2012. She was appointed to the board in 2008, elected later that year and re-elected in November to another four-year term.

In August, Gray survived a vote to remove her from the presidency over her handling of the Sebring matter.

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

Gray and the board's attorney said that Sebring kept details of the sexually explicit emails from them and that they considered the situation a personnel matter requiring privacy.

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.

Last September, Gray and other board members were surprised by a $1 million 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.

And earlier this month, the board apparently violated a state law by not swearing in its new board members “before the first Monday in January,” as state law prescribes.

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

Besides OPS issues, Gray and her husband, Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray, face financial trouble. As of early this month, the couple owed almost $50,000 to the federal government in back income taxes.

The couple recently agreed to increase how much they pay monthly and plan to have the debt paid off by 2016.

World-Herald staff writer Roseann Moring contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:402-444-1074,;

* * * * *

Freddie Gray's resignation letter

Contact the writer: Jonathon Braden    |   402-444-1074    |  

Jonathon writes about education, mostly the Omaha Public Schools, Nebraska's largest district.

Omaha police investigate two Sunday shootings
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Explosion near 29th, Woolworth damages vehicles
Omaha police arrest man, 19, accused in March shooting
Earth gets its day in the sun at Elmwood Park
Beau McCoy strikes Obama doll in TV ad; Democrats are not happy
< >
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »