By George Slaughter
Dr. Lance Hindt tendered his resignation as superintendent of the Katy Independent School District Thursday night, following what he and some board trustees called a smear campaign against him and his family.
“My immediate family has to come first,” Hindt said. “My wife and my children, they need me. In light of an organized, relentless and dishonest smear campaign against me, I cannot remain as superintendent.”
Leaders of the anti-Hindt campaign were in attendance at Thursday’s board of trustees meeting and applauded when he read his resignation statement.
Hindt’s resignation is effective January 1.
The board of trustees has stood behind Hindt throughout the series of events and disclosures that led to Thursday’s meeting. Before Hindt read his statement, the board unanimously voted to engage the Feldman and Feldman law firm, of Houston, to pursue legal action for defamation. It also voted unanimously to amend Hindt’s contract so he could tender his resignation.
Hindt, a Taylor High School graduate, joined the district as superintendent in August 2016. He had previously served as superintendent in the Allen Independent School District, near Dallas, and the Stafford Municipal School District.
Trustees Praise Hindt’s Service, Condemn Attacks
All seven board members expressed support for Hindt.
Board President Ashley Vann said Hindt was transparent and forthcoming with trustees and described the campaign against him as “nothing short of damning.” She said the “legacy for all of us is much more than a hashtag.”
Trustee Charles Griffin described the series of events that brought about Hindt’s decision to resign as a “sideshow” that has done nothing to help Katy students.
“This sideshow has cost this district money, it has cost us time, and the children are the ones that are paying the price,” Griffin said.
Trustee Bill Lacy said that Hindt had always said that the Katy superintendent’s job was his (Hindt’s) dream job. Lacy praised Hindt’s leadership on the 2017 school bond issue and his efforts following Hurricane Harvey, when the district opened three schools as shelters for approximately 3,500 people who were displaced by the storm.
“He was showing what a strong superintendent looked like,” Lacy said, adding that Hindt was proving himself to be the district’s dream superintendent.
“He was all we could have asked for, and more,” Lacy said.
The calculated smear campaign didn’t simply target Hindt and his family, Lacy said. It also attacked “living legacies” and other school officials. Many support Hindt and the others who were attacked, Lacy said, but were hesitant to speak up for fear of themselves being attacked.
“This has to stop,” Lacy said.
Trustee Bryan Michalsky said it was an “incredible two-year journey” with Hindt as superintendent and he was sorry about how it was ending. He said he believed that many things have been accomplished to move this district forward and he appreciated what Hindt has done. Michalsky said he wished Hindt could continue as superintendent but understood the decision, adding that he could only imagine the pressure that Hindt and his family have been through in recent months.
Trustee Rebecca Fox said she was completely surprised by Hindt’s decision. She recalled how, during Hurricane Harvey, she was out of town and her husband needed help because their home suffered significant flood damage. She said Hindt moved her husband to Cinco Ranch High School, where he was among the volunteers who helped other evacuees.
Trustee George Scott said he wasn’t going to dwell on the “politics of personal destruction…but that’s what happened here.”
Scott praised Hindt as one of the three most unique superintendents he has worked with, the others being Billy Reagan and Dr. Rod Paige, both formerly of the Houston Independent School District.
“From the time that Lance Hindt has arrived in this district, he has met every single marker that this board has imposed upon him,” Scott said.
Trustee Courtney Doyle said our society, through social media, is out of control.
“No one, be it a teacher, student, parent, volunteer, or even the superintendent, should be subjected to personal and relentless attacks on themselves and their families,” Doyle said.
Community Leaders Express Disappointment
Other school and community leaders expressed disappointment and sadness over the news.
Debbie Ellis, a first-grade teacher at Bryant Elementary, knows the Hindt family. She organized a pro-Hindt rally before a school board meeting last month and said Friday morning she was “very heartbroken” about Hindt’s announcement.
“The district is losing a very valuable person, a person of very high caliber,” Ellis said, describing Hindt as very visionary and having high moral values and integrity.
“We are definitely going to be at a loss for not having him in a leadership position,” Ellis said. “But when God closes one door, he opens another. I firmly believe good will come from this. Triumph and truth will prevail, but I’m sad things transpired as they did.”
Robert A. Crutchfield, a Katy-area minister, said Hindt’s resignation would bring disappointment to many in the Katy community.
“Even at the height of the allegations against him I continued to hear from numerous Katy ISD residents nothing but praise for him,” Crutchfield said in a statement. “Yet I don’t know if anyone could have survived the vicious, divisive tone of the public discussion surrounding those allegations. For the sake of our children in Katy, we must find a way to move on together. I hope the process in selecting the next superintendent will be open, transparent, and produce a leader for Katy ISD our entire community can get behind.”