By George Slaughter
The Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees selected Ken Gregorski as the sole finalist for superintendent of schools at its Monday meeting.
Gregorski, who is currently the acting superintendent, will succeed Dr. Lance Hindt, who is retiring January 1.
Trustee George Scott made the motion, seconded by Trustee Bill Lacy. They were joined in voting for the motion by Board President Courtney Doyle and Trustee Ashley Vann.
Voting against the motion were Trustees Dawn Champagne, Rebecca Fox, and Susan Gesoff.
The vote to name Gregorski as finalist came after Fox moved that the board postpone indefinitely the naming of a finalist while the board conducted a national search. The board voted down Fox’s proposal.
“I believe that it would be most fair to Mr. Gregorski and our stakeholders to pursue a national search” as had been done in the past, Fox said, adding that she thought Gregorski should serve as interim superintendent during such a search.
“My vote is not about Mr. Gregorski,” Fox said, adding that it was about the hiring process and the transparency of it.
Champagne said she thought Gregorski is a “fantastic person” but that the district deserved a process by which the best possible candidate emerges.
Scott said “poisonous politics have infected the boardroom and brought mistrust to the board,” and added that he had months ago submitted a proposal for a national search, but it was vetoed by Champagne and Fox.
Speaking in favor of Gregorski, Scott said now was not the time to create management uncertainty.
“We have people in place right now that understand the complexity of the challenges,” Scott said. “Ken Gregorski is the real deal. We don’t need a search for a crown jewel. We have the right guy at the right time, and he has an incredible team to lead.”
Gregorski has 26 years of experience in public education, including as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, assistant superintendent and deputy superintendent, according to the district.
Under state law, a 21-day waiting period takes place before Gregorski officially assumes the superintendent role.
Champagne and Fox have taken to social media in recent days to express their concerns about the process, and both were criticized for it Monday.
“Their conduct has been, by my standards, despicable,” Scott said.
Fox said expressing her concerns on Facebook was the only way she thought the district could get public feedback on the issue.
“I’ve never done it before,” Fox said. “I wasn’t accusing anyone. I was simply trying to educate our community about where we are and what we’re doing. We did not do our due diligence.”
Champagne, in response to a question put to her on social media last week, gave an incorrect answer about Gregorski’s original hiring in October 2016. The matter prompted a memo from Hindt to the trustees Friday that clarified that Gregorski applied for, and was approved for, his assistant superintendent position under applicable state law and district policy. The memo said that the vote to hire Gregorski was unanimous, with four current trustees—Doyle, Fox, Scott, and Vann—voting in favor. Champagne and Gesoff were elected in May, and Lacy was elected in 2017.
“Because this post implies I committed an illegal employment act while serving as superintendent of Katy ISD by ‘appointing’ Mr. Gregorski as assistant superintendent, I respectfully request Mrs. Champagne immediately correct this false accusation,” Hindt’s memo said.
Champagne did so both on social media and in a note to Hindt in which she asked him how would he like her to publicly apologize.
“I have apologized for what I have said,” Champagne said. “I want everyone to know that i did not imply that there was anything illegal in the hiring of Mr. Gregorski.”
Hindt tendered his resignation in May, following what he and some trustees called a smear campaign against him and his family.
The board stood behind Hindt throughout the series of events and disclosures that led to his decision to step down. Doyle said Monday that Hindt would still be in his position had it not been for the harassment and attacks against him and his family.
“We did not ask to be put in this situation,” Doyle said.
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.