Maggie Majors

Marlin ISD Board of Managers President Maggie Majors meets with other board members shortly after her appointment. The Texas Education Agency removed Majors from the board Friday.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

The Texas Education Agency has removed state-appointed board President Maggie Majors from the Marlin Independent School District Board of Managers, TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson said.

Majors was removed Friday, Culbertson said. The TEA appointed Majors in February to lead the board in turning Marlin ISD around.

The district has failed state academic accountability ratings for five years, and the board of managers is one of the state’s last attempts to prevent closing the school district altogether.

Since the board’s appointment, Majors has voted against several proposals and against the majority of the board on numerous occasions. She has often asked to have more information before deciding on specific issues, in attempts to do her due diligence in moving the district forward.

There was also contention between Majors and Superintendent Michael Seabolt in some of the board’s first meetings, including when Majors accused Seabolt of trickery when signing contracts. But Majors said she has always tried her best and has enjoyed the experience.

“There’s a packet they give us, and it talks about the board and the superintendent working together as one. Essentially, it says you want the same vision and want the same outcomes,” Majors said. “Whatever the outcomes were, I supported, and that’s just what you do. That’s what it’s about. Whatever the vote is, you go with it and you move on.

“This is for the children, and I just hope this doesn’t deter anything. At the end of the day, we all want what’s best for the students in Marlin ISD.”

Seabolt said he doesn’t know of any official reason why Majors was removed. The district received a letter via email at about 10:30 a.m. Friday from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath stating he was making a change, Seabolt said. The letter doesn’t specify why, Seabolt said.

Morath appointed Marilyn Martin as the new board of managers president and informed the district in the letter. Martin is a retired educator who is contracted with the district through the TEA as a professional program service provider, Seabolt said. She often goes into classrooms to observe how educators are doing and visits with principals about opportunities for improvement and reports back to the TEA, he said.

“She’s very, very familiar with the progress Marlin has made,” Seabolt said, referring to the district’s improvement in state test scores last year.

Majors surprised

Friday’s removal came as a surprise to Majors, she said.

“I really don’t know why,” Majors said Friday. “I have asked the commissioner why and I haven’t gotten a response. I don’t know what else to say.”

She has worked closely with the board during her time and has tried to adhere to any instruction given by A.J. Crabill, the deputy education commissioner who has attended almost every board meeting since the managers were appointed. Crabill is expected continue attending the meetings.

Crabill often serves in an advisory role and provides additional training and guidance when necessary but never indicated to her whether there were any issues, Majors said.

When a board of managers is appointed, the TEA wants to support its work, so it is not uncommon for a representative to be present at initial board meetings or at key points during the year to observe and provide feedback, TEA spokesperson Gene Acuna said last month.

“Commissioner Morath acknowledges and thanks Ms. Majors for her service to the students of Marlin ISD,” according to a TEA statement released Friday. “The Texas Education Code gives the commissioner authority to appoint and replace members of the board of managers. The Texas Education Agency shares the Marlin community’s commitment to continued improvement of the district and successful outcomes for all students.”

Acuna also stated in March that the TEA was working closely with Seabolt and the board of managers to provide support to make the district successful for all students, and that effective leadership at all levels is critical.

“The people of Marlin want their school district to succeed and be a source of pride,” Acuna stated at the time. “With that in mind, they will want the board of managers to succeed in their work.

“There are always many difficult decisions to be made in a struggling district. There will be more. However, as long as the board and superintendent operate in an open fashion and with the goal of helping all students in the district, the community will support those efforts over the long term.”

Majors, who also serves as Marlin’s Rotary Club vice president, has been involved in education the majority of her life, she said. Though this was her first time to serve on a school board, she has been part of parent-teacher and educational organizations all across the nation, she said.

“Education is my first love, and I don’t see not being connected to some parts of it in some form or fashion in the future,” she said.

Martin was sworn in at about 2 p.m., and now is the time for the superintendent and board of managers to continue working together in the best interest of students in the district, Seabolt said.

“I’ve known Maggie for a long time,” Seabolt said. “She’s a sweet lady, and I thank her for her service.”

Shelly Conlon has covered K-12 education for the Tribune-Herald since July 2016. Prior to the Tribune-Herald, she was the managing editor for the Waxahachie Daily Light, and an intern for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

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