Mikhail Gray

Mikhail Gray, an Army recruiter who has a child that attends a Killeen ISD school, speaks at a June 16 meeting of the Killeen school board about what she said are racial inequities within the Killeen Independent School District.

A local parent and Army soldier has filed an amended grievance with the Killeen school district after receiving a letter of reprimand from her chain of command following speaking at a public forum during a school board meeting in June.

On June 16, Mikhail Gray, a staff sergeant who is an Army recruiter in the area, and her spouse Kayren Gray spoke during a public forum at the Killeen Independent School District meeting. Mikhail Gray was asking school board members if they had received an email she sent to them because she had not received responses from six of the seven board members.

Nancy Duran, the district’s chief college, career, and military readiness officer, contacted Mikhail Gray’s chain of command about her comments and that led to the letter of reprimand that she received from her Army supervisors, according to Kayren Gray.

Kayren Gray said this week that an appeal and an amended grievance were both filed with KISD, and she and her spouse are awaiting a response from the district.

The initial grievance, filed Sept. 28, was denied by KISD because it was not filed within 15 days of the incident that took place on June 16.

The amended grievance was filed because of new information that was found with the help of a public information request, according to Kayren Gray.

The information request, which was also obtained by the Herald, revealed emails between Army recruiters, and Taina Maya, the spokeswoman for KISD.

An email from the Army recruiter to Jean Shine, the Killeen-Fort Hood area civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, about Mikhail Gray said, “Just to keep you in the loop, but SSG Mikhail Gray is not to speak with any KISD, educators, teachers, TEA representatives whatsoever from now until she PCS’s.” PCS refers to permanent change of station, an Army term for when a soldier moves to a new duty station.

On June 30, Shine forwarded the email to Duran who then sent the email to Maya saying, “FYI - Jean Shine sent this message to me this morning.”

Maya responded with “should I share with Dr. Craft or Jj?” referring to KISD Superintendent John Craft and JJ Johnson, KISD’s director of operations. “Or do you want to see if she disobeys and comes to their meeting?”

Duran responded to Maya and said, “I think we just leave it alone for now. JJ invited me to the meeting on the 7th. Her supervisor has already been informed of that meeting. If she comes, we share. If she doesn’t, we can share that as well.”

The emails were sent in late June, around two weeks after Mikhail Gray attended the first public forum.

The Herald reached out to Army recruiters for comment and a copy of the letter of reprimand, however, Lisa Ferguson, spokeswoman U.S. Army Rcruiting Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, said the Army could not comment on the issue due to privacy reasons.

Kayren Gray expanded on her and spouse’s thoughts surrounding the situation.

“The reprimand was given as a direct result of Nancy Duran’s mischaracterization of Mikhail’s comments to the trustees. Mikhail’s comments were made as a private citizen and are protected First Amendment speech,” Kayren Gray said. “Mrs. Duran called Mikhail’s chain of command and complained to them that she was speaking as a military member. She was not in uniform, nor did she say she was speaking as a service member. Mrs. Duran was embarrassed by the fact that Mikhail had called the Trustees to account for their failure to reply to communications from citizens in the district.”

The couple, who have a child that attends KISD, were attempting to speak on racial inequities in the district that they are hoping to help rectify.

“The broader issue is the racial disparities in our school district as reflected in the composition of the KISD administration vis a vis the students they serve, student academic outcomes, and student suspension rates. KISD serves an ethnically diverse student body consisting of 35% African Americans, 30.5% Hispanics, 21.8% Caucasian, 2.1% Pacific Islander, 1.7% Asian, 0.6% Native American and 7.7% two or more races,” Kayren said. “In other words, 77.6% of KISD students are non-white while 87.5% of KISD Central Administration Advisory Group and 74.1% of staff listed on the District Organizational Chart are Caucasian.”

Maya provided a statement from the district on the situation via email on Thursday.

“The district has received an appeal, it would be highly inappropriate for us to comment on a grievance outside of the formal process,” Maya said.

254-501-7464 | hking@kdhnews.com

(8) comments

Jdflowers1972

As a member of the military, you are banned from participating in any political or protest activities in uniform or in such a way that would lead people to believe that the military is supporting that position. I saw in the article that the NCO in question was NOT in uniform and saw no comment or reference to her representing herself as speaking for anyone besides herself, spouse, and child.

While I disagree with the woman's opinions and the conclusions that she arrived at, as was written of Voltaire's attitude

in the 1906 book “The Friends of Voltaire” by S. G. Tallentyre which was the pseudonym of historian Evelyn Beatrice Hall: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Duran and anyone else in KISD complicit i this mockery of justice, denying a parent the right to speak and to bring grievances to the school board, (a right that as a soldier she is helping to protect for everyone in this nation), should be reprimanded themselves and be forced to issue formal letters of.apology the SSG and those letters should be attached to the letter of reprimand in her file.

MilGal123

Yes, She can speak her mind at KISD. Parents have that right to voice their opinion on their children's education. This was exactly the place to do it instead of in the classroom in front of the children. Was she threatening anyone? Was she cursing? Some of you are ridiculous saying she cannot voice her opinion. Let something in the school happen that you do not like and lets see how you respond. The actions taken to reprimand her are reprehensible and speaks to the overall problem of the system. Just because she has a different opinion that you does not make her wrong.

RooDawg913

I understand some folks are upset that her chain of command was contacted. I do not know exactly what she said so I am unsure why they were contacted. I am assuming that whatever she said that the Army didn't think it was appropriate since they reprimanded her. Are you able to turn off "Active Duty Military" to voice your beliefs and then turn it back on to avoid reprimands? Nancy Duran is former Army and is the Chief Officer of College, Career, and Military Readiness at Killeen ISD so I am assuming she does know some military personal.

FairWxRider

The Army parents were clearly within their First Amendment rights to speak their minds at the meeting. Apparently they broke now laws. Nothing in the article suggests that their conduct was unbecoming of Army personnel. It appears that KISD officials used their cozy ties to the local military command to inappropriately muffle legitimate complaints critical of the KISD. Certainly the Gray's complaints would have been considered appropriate had the comments come from any other parents even if KISD disagreed with those comments. I would think that a very large percentage of KISD parents are active duty military. Are they as a group not allowed to complain for change and improvement of their children's school system?

Nmlady

First of all Kayren, your facts are wrong. In or out of uniform, if you are active duty military, you are a representative of the United States Military. For your spouse to make such comments reveals her racist beliefs, the military has no room for racists. She should be lucky that she only received a reprimand. It is well within the commanders right to issue a reprimand and if she continues her ludicrous rant, she's in direct violation of a direct order which carries a higher punishment through the UCMJ. It should not matter the color of skin, only that the qualifications are met. Being a recruiter, she has the opportunity to be assigned to an area that will best suit her racist beliefs. Suggest she apply for a different duty station based on her racist beliefs and see how far that gets her.

Krs901

She's very ignorant. Are the teachers QUALIFIED?? I don't care what they look like..Why are blacks not applying to become teachers? Should white teachers quit and leave everyone's kid without a teacher to appease this black racist? Complete idiot. She just wants a black teacher not the best teacher. Some Black folks are embarrassing as hel.

cz144

VOTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT CLEANING OUT THE SWAMP. I THINK WE SHOULD START LOOKING A LITTLE CLOSER TO HOME SPEAKING ABOUT KISD.THAT SGT WAS A TAX PAYER ,TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT EFFECTED HER LIFE. DON'T KNOW WHAT SHE SAID AND IT MAKES NO DIFFERANCE NANCY DURAN (PUT KISD OR HERSELF IN A LEGAL MATTER) FOR MAKING ANY CONTACS TO THIS LADYS CHAIN OF COMMAND.WONDER IF THIS LADY WAS A COLONEL WOULD DURAN HAVE CONTACTED THE POST COMMANDER. I ALWAYS SAID THAT AFTER HIGH SCHOOL FOR EVERY YEAR OF COLLAGE YOU LOSE TEN PERSENT OF YOUR COMMON SENSE.DURAN MUST HAVE A MASTERS DEGREE

hutch3703

Absolutely disgraceful. Report her to her COC because she spoke out? KISD should be investigated by the state. That's messing with peoples careers because they don't like what she said. Does anyone for a second think that is she worked at Walmart they would have called her Supervisor? She should get a lawyer and go after them In todays Army, that reprimand for exercising her 1st Amendment rights can end her career.

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