The Marlin Independent School District board of managers unanimously voted Monday morning to accept suspended Superintendent Michael Seabolt’s resignation, effective immediately.
Board member Byrleen Terry made the motion to accept Seabolt’s resignation, which was submitted Aug. 8, and board member Eddie Ellis seconded the motion. Board member Sam Sinno was absent.
The board spent an hour in closed session before emerging to vote. It did not take action on selecting a superintendent search firm.
The superintendent’s resignation came a day after the board unanimously voted Aug. 7 to place him on unpaid administrative leave and to initiate the process of terminating his contract, two months after suspending him with pay.
Seabolt will not receive a buyout from his contract, which was to expire in 2023, he said by phone after the meeting. His annual salary was $140,000.
Seabolt said he decided to resign because he did not see how he could get due process through the Texas Education Agency, the agency currently overseeing Marlin ISD via a state-appointed board of managers and conservator.
“It just wasn’t going to work,” he said. “It was pretty clear TEA wanted to go in a different direction. They told me that last summer. This board was chosen by TEA to get that done. This is all coming from the commissioner.”
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 through TEA after receiving notice of suspension without pay. The same rules apply for proposed termination of a superintendent’s contract.
Seabolt said he has been battling TEA ever since he took the superintendent job in Marlin. He said the agency is “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.”
Still, Seabolt wishes the students, staff and board of managers of Marlin ISD the best. He said he believes the board truly cares about the children of the district.
“I thought it was best for Marlin find a new superintendent and for me to hail on down the road,” he said. “It’s what’s best for the kids.”
The 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 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.