A grievance that was denied by the Killeen Independent School District was filed by an Army soldier in September after she spoke during the public forum at a June meeting of the district’s board of trustees.
Mikhail Gray, a recruiter in the Army who worked within the school district, spoke at the June 16 meeting of the board about what she said are racial inequities within the district.
She said during the forum that she sent an email to all seven of the board members around a week before the meeting and she never heard back from six of the members, the one member that responded was Brett Williams.
Gray said in her grievance that she filed in September, that she made her public comments as a parent of a student in the district and a private citizen, and not as an Army recruiter.
The grievance was filed in response to Nancy Duran, KISD’s chief college, career and military readiness officer, who called Gray’s chain of command to complain about her comments, according to the grievance.
After Duran contacted her chain of command, Gray said she received a letter of reprimand from her command.
The Herald reached out to Gray and the Army to try and get a copy of the letter and did not receive responses. However, Gray’s spouse, Kayren Gray, said Friday that the letter of reprimand states that Mikhail Gray cannot contact employees within KISD.
According to an interview Mikhail Gray did with the Herald in April, she’s been in the military for 24 years, spending the last six years as an Army recruiter on active duty. She also spent nine years as an active-duty combat medic, and served in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve before that.
Mikhail Gray said during her public forum comments in June that she will soon be transitioning out of the Army. She was not in her Army uniform when she spoke at the school board meeting.
According to the Gray’s grievance, Duran abridged Gray’s right to free speech, discriminated against her because of the content of her speech, failed to “recognize and respect the rights of members of the community” during public forum and that she interfered with a “colleague’s exercise of citizenship rights,”
The email was sent from Duran to Gray’s chain of command around 9:43 p.m. on June 16, the same night of the meeting, according to the grievance.
Mikhail Gray could not be reached for comment this week because she was in the hospital, according to her spouse.
Taina Maya, the spokeswoman for KISD, said in an email Thursday that the district denied the grievance because it was not filed within 15 days of the incident, in accordance with board policy.
The policy states the “time limits shall be strictly followed unless modified by mutual written consent.”
Mikhail Gray requested that the time limit be waived in her grievance because she was not aware of the alleged wrongdoing that was done to her until September.
Maya said that KISD did not file a complaint with Gray’s chain of command but that a KISD employee “reached out to try and find out more information about contacting the KISD Board of Trustees in reference to Ms. Gray’s work with TEA regarding Military readiness,” she said in an email Thursday.
Philemon Brown, a local pastor and Harker Heights resident, reached out to the Herald with a letter to the editor in the Oct. 4 edition defending Gray.
He spoke on why he reached out during a phone conversation on Thursday.
“It speaks to the larger issues within the district in how retaliatory the district is,” Brown said. “There is no accountability and the school board just bows down to Dr. Craft,” referring to KISD Superindtendent John Craft.
He said that what happened to Gray is “sickening.”
“When you have a child in the school district and you are speaking on inequities in the district you have a right,” Brown said.
He also added that he and some other community members are attempting to start a Harker Heights chapter of the NAACP.
“It came as a lack of support from the local chapter. It stemmed from trying to get support for what we were doing and the racial inequities in the area,” he said.
The chapter would serve Harker Heights, Nolanville and Belton if it is approved.