Lance Hindt, the Katy (Texas) school superintendent who has been dogged by decades-old claims that he bullied students during his middle and high school years, says he will retire on Jan.1.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Hindt announced his decision at Thursday night's school board meeting. He asserted that since the allegations surfaced in March that he bullied fellow students as a youth, he has been subjected to what he called "a smear campaign."
That has made it too difficult for his wife, son and daughter, he says.
The Katy school board voted to hire a law firm to pursue a defamation case.
After the meeting, Greg Gay, a Katy businessman and a former classmate of Hindt who made the first allegations of bullying, said he was surprised by Hindt's announced departure.
"This upsets me," Gay says. "This is not what I wanted at all. It breaks my heart."
After Hindt denied Gay's allegations, which were aired during a school board meeting in March, Circuit Judge David Carpenter of Alabama's 10th district came forward to assert that Hindt was a "vicious bully" when the two attended Taylor High School in the Katy district in 1982.
Hindt was hired in August 2016 to lead the district he attended as a child. He denied the specific bullying allegations, but has acknowledged that he did "dumb things" as a younger man. Board members have stood behind Hindt.
[More from The Houston Chronicle: In contemplating legal action, Katy officials appear to be trying to threaten and intimidate the little guys who have dared criticize the popular superintendent. The intent, in other words, is to bully.]
His statements have not satisfied critics, who say bullying is pervasive and tolerated in the district. One Katy parent, Sean Dolan, has used a website to step up criticism of Hindt, questioning whether there was plagiarized material in Hindt's 2012 doctoral dissertation at the University of Houston.
A constitutional law expert said this week that because Hindt is a government official, he will face more difficulty proving that he has been defamed than if he were a private citizen.