Superintendent search over

HS Principal Lee Vick picked as new Superintendent of Okemah Public Schools; Search now begins for new high school principal

By Joshua Allen
ONL Staff Reporter

It took some time to make a decision, but the superintendent search is over … and, while the Okemah Board of Education cast a large net with a third-party search firm to help find the best candidate, in the end, the one the board picked was close to home.

High School Principal Lee Vick shakes the hand of Okemah Board of Education President Jason Bean after accepting an offer to be the district’s new superintendent. (Joshua Allen/ONL Staff Reporter)

Unanimously and after a little less than an hour in an executive session last Wednesday, the board voted to extend the offer of employment for the top administrative position in the district to Okemah High School Principal Lee Vick.

Vick, an Okemah High School graduate, chose not to make an official comment at the meeting, stating he wanted to give himself time to “take it all in.”

Vick will take over at the helm of Okemah’s schools following the interim tenure of Dr. Bob Gragg.

Not right away, though. The transition, which will see Gragg and Vick working together, will take a few months. 

Gragg told the News Leader he would be continuing in the interim superintendent position until the end of this fiscal year, June 30, giving him the chance to act as a mentor to Vick through the important budgeting process. 

“(Vick) is learning and making a lot of decisions for the next school year,” Gragg said. 

Since the new superintendent is from within the district, Gragg said it’s a “huge advantage” for Vick to have this opportunity to be in on many of the key decisions for next year — decisions concerning policy, personnel, the budget and district-wide calendar, to name a few. 

“We have not made our calendar for next school year, but now that the decision on superintendent has been made, we can make the calendar with Vick’s input,” Gragg said. “(Vick and I) having this chance to work together (for the next few months) and him being here to make many important decisions for next year is great for the school (district) and the students.” 

Often positions like superintendent are filled by individuals from other districts or towns or even other states, which Gragg said can make the transition more difficult, indicating the decision to hire from within the district to be a good one.  

Vick’s promotion to the top leaves a vacancy in the leadership at the high school. Who takes over as principal?

The board did not indicate at the meeting who would be replacing Vick as the high school principal, but Gragg told the News Leader in a later interview the position is now “basically open.”

In other words, let the search for a new principal begin. Gragg said the application is ready and the district will now be on the lookout for the right candidate to replace Vick. 

“We hope to find a replacement before the end of the school year,” he said. 

For now, Vick will continue his role as high school principal, simultaneously fulfilling his responsibilities there while working with Gragg to better learn the superintendent position in anticipation for the next school year. 

Vick was Okemah High School’s principal for almost a decade. 

Gragg said he thought the selection of Vick for superintendent was a good idea. 

“(Vick) is a great guy … he’s been a part of this community for a long time and you can tell he loves it,” Gragg said. “He has a great family, great kids and is going to do what he thinks is best for the school and this community.” 

Vick graduated from the University of Tulsa where he was what Gragg called an incredible athlete. He worked in law enforcement before starting his career in education — coaching, teaching and administration.

The News Leader will be following the school district’s search for a high school principal. Keep an eye on www.okemahnewsleader.com for updates.  

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