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Marlin ISD

Marlin Independent School District teacher Cynthia Derry told the district’s state-appointed board of managers Wednesday night that she and other teachers are weary with the way the new administration is treating them.

Derry read a letter aloud to the board during the public comment portion of the board’s meeting and held another four letters from other Marlin ISD teachers who signed their letters anonymously for fear of retaliation. She plans to submit the letters to the board of managers.

Although she has taught for more than 10 years, this is Derry’s first year at Marlin ISD, where she works as a fourth grade teacher at Marlin Elementary School.

“The work environment has become unacceptable and almost impossible to accomplish my goal of improving the status of our children,” she said to the board. “I understand the position that our school is in, but I feel that all of the current teachers are being blamed for the previous administrative negligence.”

Derry went on to list her concerns as “the erratic unscheduled events that continue to negatively impact my ability to teach children who have been deemed academically below their grade levels by at least two academic years; the lack of effective consequences for infractions students continue to engage in; the lack of effective administrative support; and the lack of basic resources required for any student or teacher to maintain a positive nurturing classroom environment.”

Marlin ISD has not met state student academic standards since 2010, longer than any other school district in Texas.

The Texas Education Agency has intervened in an effort to improve student academic performance, beginning in 2015 with an agreement between the agency and the district to keep Marlin ISD open, despite failing standardized test scores.

On Nov. 20, the state-appointed board of managers that replaced the elected board of trustees in 2017 unanimously approved another abatement agreement to keep Marlin schools open for at least one more school year.

State Education Commissioner Mike Morath revoked Marlin ISD’s accreditation for the 2018-19 school year in February based on the prior year’s ratings, but the abatement agreement puts that accreditation revocation on hold, pending the district’s 2019 academic and financial accountability ratings, the agreement states.

Morath also extended the board of managers’ placement another two years in February and assigned a conservator to oversee district operations.

After the meeting, Interim Superintendent Jean Bahney referred to previous comments she made to the Tribune-Herald in which she said change is difficult for some teachers but that all are committed to their jobs.

In each of the four anonymous letters, teachers write about not being able to discipline students who misbehave, about teachers resigning because they are tired of being threatened by Bahney and about how Bahney yells at them in front of students.

The teachers also write that Bahney has made herself a permanent fixture at the elementary campus, undermining Principal Alushka Driska’s authority.

The elementary school assistant principal, Phil Johanson, resigned at the end of last month, CFO Patricia Lewis said.

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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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