Freddie Gray re-elected Omaha school board chief in 30 rounds of voting

Omaha school board President Freddie Gray kept her job on a 7-5 vote, despite criticism she received last summer over the Nancy Sebring emails.


Freddie Gray will remain president of the Omaha school board, although it took 30 rounds of voting to re-elect her.

On a 7-5 vote Monday night, board members picked Gray to lead them for another year. She has been school board president for the past 12 months.

The board took almost 90 minutes to decide between her and Justin Wayne.

There were nine rounds in which three candidates received votes. Twenty times, the board's vote ended in a tie: Gray 6, Wayne 6.

Wayne has been on the board for two years and often casts the dissenting vote on 11-1 decisions. Gray survived an earlier attempt to remove her as president.

After vote No. 20, interim Superintendent Virginia Moon told the board it could postpone the election if members felt they were “hopelessly deadlocked.”

After vote No. 25, Moon again chimed in, advising members to hear from Wayne and Gray, who provided reasons why they should be president.

A 10-minute recess produced another 6-6 vote before the board agreed to address the rest of the agenda before voting again. After other business, the board voted two more times before finally giving the edge to Gray.

She declined to comment and left the meeting after the vote, saying she felt ill.

In August, the board voted 8-4 to keep Gray as leader. She was criticized for not informing the board after learning that Nancy Sebring, the district's superintendent-to-be, had resigned from her previous job for sending racy emails on a school computer.

Sixteen years ago, the vote for president took four hours and 116 ballots. The meeting in January 1997 ended without a decision. At the next meeting, on the fifth ballot, the board finally elected its president.

Monday night's election started with three nominees: Gray, who was nominated by Mary Morrissey, and Wayne and Marian Fey, who nominated themselves.

All three nominees gave short speeches before the voting, which was secret.

It took only six rounds of voting for the board to elect Fey as vice president. Fey replaces Morrissey.

Four new OPS board members who won election in November also were sworn in Monday night: Sarah Brumfield, Danyelle Baratta, Nicole Nash and Jennifer Tompkins Kirshenbaum.

Contact the writer: jonathon.braden@owh.com

402-444-1074, twitter.com/jonathonbraden

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