KATY, Texas – The Katy Independent School District school board meeting on Monday seemed routine until Greg Barrett stepped up to the microphone to speak during the public comment portion. The meeting was recorded.
“My name is Greg Barrett,” he told the school board. “I was bullied, unbelievably bullied.”
Barrett told board members about an incident that took place in the late 1970s, when he was in junior high school, when his face was shoved into a urinal and his lip cut by bullies. He said the school did nothing so he went home, put a gun his mouth and thought about suicide.
“Because at this point, I had nobody,” Barrett said.
As jarring as his statement was, Barrett ended his time at the lectern by accusing Katy ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt of being his tormentor.
“Lance, you were the one that shoved my head in the urinal,” Barrett said.
Barrett then walked off as Hindt shook his head and seemed to laugh.
"I don't know. It was difficult. It was very difficult," Barrett told KPRC on Tuesday.
Barrett's last name is actually Gay, which is why, he said, he was bullied. Barrett said his parents moved from Katy for a year and changed his last name.
"My parents changed my name in the school -- not legally, but in the school, to Greg Barrett," he said.
He said when he returned to Katy as a high school freshman, the name change stopped the bullying but didn't erase the pain.
A day after Barrett/Gay’s statement hit the internet, Hindt fired back in a written statement.
“It was difficult for me to listen to a gentleman Monday night recount a bullying incident he said occurred more than 35 years ago… when an individual impugns my character and reputation as the instigator of those actions, I am disappointed because it simply is not true. I do not recall this person from my childhood,” Hindt wrote.
"Be a man and own it. My gosh, he has a doctor's degree,” Barrett/Gay said after reading Hindt’s denial.
Barrett/Gay said he decided to come forward nearly four decades later after finding the website A Better Legacy.
The website is run by a father who claims his children were bullied in Katy ISD. Sean Dolan told KPRC that Barrett/Gay contacted him and recounted the same story he told at Monday’s board meeting and that he advised Barrett/Gay about how to sign up to speak during the public comment portion.
Barrett/Gay also provided KPRC with the name and phone number of man he said witnessed his bullying in junior high school. Chris Dolan told KPRC he apologized to Barrett/Gay for not stopping the torments.
“Looking back, I wasn't the child I wanted to be. I wasn't the guy I wanted to be,” Dolan said.
Hindt is adamant he did nothing.
"I do not suggest that Mr. Barrett was not bullied, only that I was not part of it. Bullying is wrong. Period. It was then and it is today,” Hindt’s statement further read.
Barrett/Gay said he's not looking for Hindt to lose his job. He just wants an apology.
"The whole thing is I want to help the other kids, and I hope that this message gets out there so that it may save somebody's life," Barrett/Gay said.
Below is the full statement from Lance Hindt, Katy ISD superintendent:
“It was difficult for me to listen to a gentleman Monday night recount a bullying incident he said occurred more than 35 years ago. As superintendent in three school districts in Texas, I have always tried to create an environment where every student is safe -- physically and emotionally. But when an individual impugns my character and reputation as the instigator of those actions, I am disappointed because it simply is not true. I do not recall this person from my childhood.
"I did not graduate from the same high school as Mr. Barrett, though we did attend the same junior high in 1978. And my junior high principal -- Mr. McMeans -- would never have let me (or anyone else) get away with the actions he described.
"I do not suggest that Mr. Barrett was not bullied, only that I was not part of it. Bullying is wrong. Period. It was then and it is today. At Katy ISD, we are always looking for ways to make our campuses and our students safe. I am proud to lead a district that is not afraid to confront bullying behavior – whether in person or online. We are always challenging our teachers and principals to identify harmful behavior and to intervene as necessary.”