The Marlin Independent School District Board of Managers unanimously voted on Wednesday night to place Superintendent Michael Seabolt on unpaid administrative leave and terminate his contract, two months after suspending him with pay.

Board member Sam Sinno said all board members were present at the meeting and spent almost two hours in closed session discussing Seabolt’s contract before voting.

Sinno said he could not comment on why the board decided to begin the process of terminating the superintendent’s contract. He said the board placed Seabolt on unpaid leave because the termination process can be quite lengthy and board members do not want to continue paying his salary during that process.

Seabolt’s annual salary is $140,000, according to his contract.

According to the Texas Education Code, a board may suspend a superintendent without pay for “good cause” pending termination, but the superintendent has a right to request a hearing with an independent examiner after receiving notice of suspension without pay. The same rules apply for proposed termination of a superintendent’s contract.

Seabolt said Wednesday night that the board chose not to speak with his attorney, who board members asked to be available by phone. He said he does not know why the board decided to terminate his contract.

“They don’t have anything on me,” he said. “It didn’t have to be this complicated. Take a look at Marcus Nelson. He actually committed a crime and got arrested, and it didn’t take this long.”

Nelson, Waco ISD’s former superintendent, resigned in March two weeks after a misdemeanor marijuana possession arrest. He has since completed a pretrial diversion program and had the charge dropped.

The Marlin board considered taking action on Seabolt’s contract July 17 but adjourned without taking any action after meeting in closed session for more than two hours.

Suspension vote

The state-appointed board of managers voted 4-1 on June 5 to suspend Seabolt and launch an investigation into his performance and the district. Board member Danny Vickers cast the sole dissenting vote.

The vote to suspend Seabolt came a week after a similar motion made by board member Eddie Ellis failed. State-appointed conservator Jean Bahney then directed the board to suspend the superintendent, “pending further board action,” after the motion failed.

Assistant Superintendent Remy Godfrey is serving as the district’s acting superintendent.

Seabolt started as Marlin ISD superintendent in summer 2015, with a mandate to turn the district of 835 students around. He guided the district through its first abatement agreement with the Texas Education Agency to prevent closure of the district because of chronic failure of state accountability standards, which are largely based on state standardized test scores.

When Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath appointed the five-member board of managers in 2017, he also declared Seabolt would remain as superintendent. Since then, the board of managers has renewed Seabolt’s contract twice after positive evaluations from the board, Seabolt said.

His most recent contract renewal occurred in February of last year and extends through Feb. 19, 2023.

Meanwhile, Marlin ISD faces closure for the fourth consecutive school year, despite two years of state intervention in the form of a state-installed board of managers. The district has failed state academic accountability standards for seven consecutive years.

As a result, Morath revoked Marlin ISD’s accreditation status for the 2018-19 school year in February. He also appointed Bahney as conservator.

In January, Morath extended the appointment of the board of managers for another two years, citing a “lack of improvement” at the district.

The closure of the district depends on the results of an informal review of its accreditation status. Marlin ISD requested this review, a remedy available to school districts in this situation. The results of the review are pending, according to the TEA.

The district faced the possibility of closure the past three school years and has continued operating under abatement agreements with the TEA.

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Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

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