UPDATED: Katy ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt announces 2019 resignation, trustees approve special counsel to pursue defamation suit

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UPDATED 3:06 P.M. MAY 14
Katy ISD released an update to Hindt’s contract May 11, in which it is stated that Hindt will receive more than $750,000 in a severance package once he retires Jan. 1. The package is equal to two years of his base salary rate; the Texas Education Agency’s 2017-2018 superintendent salary report for Hindt is $386,850.

The amendment also calls for the district to incur all legal fees associated with the defamation suit on behalf of Hindt. In the new contract Hindt is required to reimburse the district for 50 percent of the cost up to $25,000.

Original post 10 p.m. May 10
Katy ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt announced May 10 at a special board meeting he will resign from his position effective Jan. 1, 2019.

“My wife and my children, they need me,” Hindt said. “In light of an organized, relentless and dishonest smear campaign against me, I cannot remain superintendent of Katy ISD while fulfilling those duties and still fulfill my sacred duty as a husband and father.”

Before Hindt’s announcement, the board of trustees voted unanimously to approve an order for outside special counsel to pursue legal action for a possible defamation suit on behalf of Hindt and KISD staff. The district has not commented on who the defendant might be as of press time.

District officials said the defamation of Hindt has interfered with the district’s strategic plan and warranted expenditure of public funds for a possible defamation lawsuit.

Some trustees provided comments after the announcement and showed support for Hindt. Trustee Bill Lacy said the district itself has become a victim of bullying, and that more has to be done to address the bullying and scare tactics that were used against Hindt and his family, the district and KISD staff.

“Now our teachers are afraid, they are afraid that they are next,” Trustee Rebecca Fox said. “They can’t do their jobs now.”

The announcement comes nearly two months after Katy businessman Greg Gay, also known as Greg Barrett, accused Hindt at a March 19 school board meeting of bullying him when they were in middle school together more than 30 years ago. Gay described the alleged incident during which he said Hindt forced his head into a urinal while they were in the boys bathroom. Gay said Hindt’s actions led him to contemplate suicide.

Following Gay’s accusation, three more allegations were made against Hindt contributing to the claim he was a vicious bully in his teens. Hindt ended up apologizing to district staff for allegations surrounding him and the district April 6.

Chad Baruch, a Dallas-based First Amendment attorney and former high school administrator, said depending on whether Hindt is considered a public figure and how prominently he is considered a public figure, the district will have to prove actual malice in order to win a defamation suit.

“You essentially have to prove that the defendant either acted with actual knowledge of falsity or with reckless disregard for the truth,” Baruch said.

When it comes to using taxpayer money to fund a defamation suit on behalf of a public official, Baruch said it is difficult to say whether it is legal for a public agency to use taxpayer money on a public official’s behalf.

“It’s just very, very strange to me that they would be utilizing taxpayer’s dollars for that purpose,” Baruch said. “As someone who was in education for many years I can only say I really hope that they’ve done an enormous amount of investigation to assure themselves beyond any question that these allegations are false, because the message if they have not done that diligence, the message that they would be sending to potential victims of bullying in their own district is not a very good one.”

Baruch said the defendant in the case might use a statute called the Texas Citizens Participation Act, also known as the Texas Anti SLAPP law, that was passed to deter lawsuits that are designed to intimidate people who are attempting to exercise their constitutional speech rights.

 

The Katy ISD board of trustees will meet again at 6:30 p.m. May 29 at the Education Support Complex for a regularly scheduled meeting at 6301 S. Stadium Lane, Katy.

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COMMENT
  1. Without knowing the details of who they intend to sue and for what specific acts, I think Baruch may be correct. Will be interested to learn what conduct by potential defendants has interfered with superintendent’s/board’s official duties.

  2. Listening to the board cry and whine over the resignation was quite a sight. I’m not sure what “war” is going on or why they think teachers are next. I think king lance fell into the power trip that comes with being in charge of KISD. Now that he’s gone, maybe they’ll return the bell schedule to what it originally was and spend some of the bond $$$ on more buses/drivers.
    What is most pathetic is that the board said they vetted him and knew of the things that have come to light. Again, this shows the corruption that has been in KISD administration for some time where the powerful cover for the corrupt.
    JW

  3. I don’t know about Dr. Hindt but I know first hand Katy ISD allows bullying of its teachers. I resigned due to lack of resolution of my complaints of bullying by my team leader. I followed the grievance policy and the results were nothing changed. I demanded a resolution or a release of contract. They choose to release me instead of dealing with the bully.

  4. “I cannot remain superindent”………but I can squeeze 6 more months in, even though its so terrible for my family and I. What an egotist. As for laughing at Mr.Barrett for the urinal incident, that would make Hindlt a sadist. They cannot restrain their joy when they see their work or are reminded of it. I bet all of his victims would say he was laughing at the time. He’s leading a double life and it will come out, very soon. Bullies rarely go away, they become chronic with other deceitful behaviors, always scheming. He saves the ‘exciting’ negatives for private times with someone private. He created a very public and highly successful life where his past didnt matter. Now it does and he’s panicking…….

  5. William Sanders

    My son was bullied by a teacher in KISD. At the time, it was brushed under carpet and my son was withdrawn from school (Mayde Creek Junior High). My wife worked in education and didn’t want to pursue it. Looking back, I wish I would have. This isn’t first time that the district or its employee has engaged in bullying behavior. I wish instead of worrying about district or personal reputation that they would put the student at the top of their priorities. I watched video and everyone that spoke tonight put KISD or themselves reputation at the top of the list to what needs to be protected. The students were third or fourth on their list. I now work for a district in the area and find that this might be norm. These districts proclaim students first but when it comes down to it they are actually not according to their actions. Also, what the board and district has decided to do is an attempt at bullying on their behalf.

  6. KISD is in violation of SPED students IEP and claims filed by a parent was ignored and said nothing happened. Yet the staff member who is involved will not return answers to the questions sent.That is why the same student gets sick thinking about going to school. That KISD is aware and has done nothing to rectify it! So If there are any defamation suits filed, KISD will be counter sued for for negligence, student abuse, and the list goes on. The discovery will sink their boat. KISD is using the Threat of Defamation which is a clear indicator of stifling free speech, among many other problems.

  7. All of this is laughable except for what happened to Greg Barrett. This man didn’t have the resources that students have today in their schools.

    I hope this case goes to court so that the Katy ISD board can be seen as a group that puts one bully before everyone else. These are people that lack common sense and should be removed from their seats.

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Rebecca Hennes
Born and raised in west Houston, Rebecca joined Community Impact in June 2017 after graduating from the Honors College at the University of Houston. She serves as the Katy editor covering government, education, business and transportation.
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