Morikis abruptly steps down as Emergency Manager

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GARY SCHOOLS DISTRICT Spokesperson Chelsea Whittingon (far left) speaks with outgoing Emergency Manager Peter Morikis and Interim Emergency Manager Dr. Page McNulty.

Dr. Paige McNulty appointed to interim role effective immediately

Crusader Staff Report

Peter Morikis on Tuesday, February 25, abruptly stepped down as the top leader of the Gary school system, becoming the second emergency manager to leave since the state took over the district in 2017.

East Chicago Schools Superintendent Dr. Paige McNulty will serve as Interim Emergency Manager.

Morikis was appointed emergency manager in 2018 after his predecesser Peggy Hinckley stepped down, after 16 months on the job. Morikis also served 16 months in the post.

“I was brought into this role to complete Phase 1 of the turnaround plan which included assessing and evaluating the District’s academic and financial needs,” said Morikis. “We have made significant strides in stabilizing these areas, and now the focus becomes ending GCSC’s status as a distressed unit.”

Morikis leaves a state-controlled school district whose image has been bruised by community distrust and transparency issues as it struggles to reduce debts that were once over $100 million.

Though he had sole authority to make academic and financial decisions, Morikis was sometimes criticized for not taking full control of the leadership role in addressing problems in the state-controlled district. Oftentimes, MGT Consulting Group executive Eric Parish appeared more visible and in charge than Morikis.

Morikis will assist McNulty with transitioning into the role as well as working on other special projects for the District. A series of forums will be held for the community to meet McNulty and learn more about her immediate goals as Interim Emergency Manager.

“I am proud of the fact that during my tenure we have cut our deficit in half while working to engage more community stakeholders in the work being done to improve our district,” said Morikis. “Everything I do is for our children. Dr. McNulty feels the same way and will be a great asset to the team.”

McNulty last August abruptly resigned as superintendent in East Chicago. She came to the District in the fall of 2019 as a result of an assignment by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). She worked to improve the operations of the Federal Programs Department, implementing procedures and greater oversight of grants to ensure compliance with federal guidelines.

“After completing a successful assignment with Federal Programs, I am honored to accept the role of Interim Emergency Manager and continue the great work that’s underway in Gary,” said McNulty. “I am fully focused on moving the Gary schools back to a self-sustaining district. It’s what we all want.”

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