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Accused Teacher Appeals Decision To Deny License

SANTA FE, N.M. — A man who has worked as a teacher in the Santa Fe and Española school districts, accused of improper contact with female students, last week appealed a state Public Education Department decision against renewing his teaching license.

In state District Court last week, Gary Gregor filed notice of appeal from PED Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera’s recent order, saying the decision was arbitrary and capricious and not supported by evidence.

Skandera, in her written decision, cited testimony in a PED hearing from students and school officials. One girl testified that Gregor gave her a cellphone and would call her every day; once “put his hand inside her pants;” invited her to his house for dinner and to stay over; gave her gifts like a teddy bear and once tried to get her into a closet to kiss her.

The order does not specify the girl’s age or in which school district she was a student, but it appears from other parts of the written decision that she was an Española student.

Efforts to reach Gregor, 55, directly for comment were unsuccessful. But a woman who answered the phone Tuesday at a number listed under his name at first said there would be no comment, then called the Journal back to say Gregor was dropping the appeal.

According to Skandera’s order, Fidel Trujillo, assistant superintendent in Española, testified at Gregor’s license hearing that Gregor admitted giving students gifts “but omitted any mention of giving teddy bears;” confirmed “that the student he had given the cellphone to was a student he invited to his house;” and denied calling students, although a student told Trujillo that Gregor “called her between 10 and 20 times per night.”

According to the PED, Gregor worked for the Española schools from 2005 to 2009 and then was placed on administrative leave before being terminated in May 2010.

He worked for Santa Fe Public Schools from August 2000 through May 2002 and again from August 2003 to May 2004, according to Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez, who said she couldn’t release additional information. PED spokesman Larry Behrens said Gregor worked at Santa Fe’s Agua Fria Elementary.

In 2004, Gregor signed an agreement to resign from Santa Fe Public Schools in lieu of going through discharge proceedings, according to Skandera’s May 31 order denying renewal of his teaching license.

In 2005, the PED issued a reprimand to Gregor for “among other things, having fourth-grade girls frequently sit on his lap, at which time he would hug them, put his arm around their waists and tickle them on their stomach or arm,” the order says.

Behrens said PED’s 2005 reprimand of Gregor was on record for any district considering him for employment. Calls last week and Tuesday to the Española district superintendent’s office were not returned.

Behrens added last week that the department will use “every measure we have to make sure Mr. Gregor does not have a license to teach in New Mexico.”

Behrens also said that in 1996 in Utah, Gregor was reprimanded for “lack of professional judgment.”

Calls to Gregor’s Albuquerque attorney were not returned.

In 2009, Española police investigated Gregor after a father complained. Detective Bryan Martinez said students and parents were interviewed and information was turned over to the District Attorney’s Office, but apparently no charges were ever filed.

A clerk in 2nd District Court in Layton, Utah, confirmed Wednesday that a Gary Gregor with the same date of birth as the teacher investigated by the Española police faced a charge of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in Utah in the mid-1990s.

Articles from the Deseret News of Salt Lake City available online say that Gregor, then 39 and teaching at an elementary school, was accused in court records of improperly touching girls ages 10 and 11. Gregor denied the charges and the felony case was dismissed in November 1995 when a judge found there was not sufficient evidence to take the case to trial, according to the News. A lawyer for Gregor was quoted as saying that Gregor was an “extroverted, friendly teacher” who was just “overly touchy-huggy with the kids.”

Full hearing

According to his court appeal in New Mexico last week, Gregor was given notice in August 2010 that his teaching license wouldn’t be renewed. Gregor subsequently was issued a license by mistake. The case eventually went to “a full administrative evidentiary hearing” before a hearing officer, who recommended to Skandera that the license renewal be denied.

Other evidence cited in Skandera’s order against Gregor’s license renewal includes:

n Another girl said Gregor had invited her to his house for dinner and to sleep over, once licked or kissed her ear and also gave her a teddy bear and some pens with his name on them.

n A third student said that she also was given gifts by Gregor, including bears, and that he would “touch her legs, private parts and kiss her cheek and that he threatened her if she told.” He also invited her to his house but she declined, this girl testified.

n Angela Dawson, Santa Fe schools’ assistant human resources director, testified that she investigated complaints of inappropriate behavior by Gregor involving girls. She learned that he had formed a basketball team of only girls that would play during recess and he would “push his body against the girls.” Dawson testified she thought Gregor had “boundary issues involving girls” and allowed them to sit on his lap.

Gregor did not testify at the licensure hearing, Skandera’s order says.

The order does say that Gregor, apparently through his attorney, was “disparaging” of the testimony of girls and others, asking why they hadn’t called the police or complained to the principal or a school counselor.