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Michael Seabolt

The Texas Education Agency has closed its investigation into former Marlin Independent School District Superintendent Michael Seabolt after six months, an agency spokesman confirmed Thursday.

Additionally, the agency has removed flags from Seabolt’s educator certificates, which can be found on the TEA’s website.

On Sept. 4, Seabolt received a written notice of investigation from the TEA’s Educator Investigations Division, stating investigators had opened a case file to review allegations of “misappropriation of funds” and “ethics violations,” according to a copy of the letter obtained via a public information request.

Seabolt had resigned Aug. 8, two months after the district’s state-appointed board of managers suspended him and launched a district-level investigation into his performance at the direction of the state-appointed conservator at the time, Jean Bahney. Bahney now serves as the interim superintendent.

That investigation cost the district about $68,000, according to documents obtained via an open records request.

In a March 13 letter, a TEA investigator wrote to Seabolt that the “official inquiry” into him had been completed.

“The circumstances surrounding the investigation were deemed not to warrant further action,” the letter states. “This case is being administratively closed with no additional action required.”

Seabolt said he is glad the investigation is done but wishes it had not taken so long.

“It has been almost 10 months since this process started,” he said. “Clearly, the accusations were never true, given the very serious nature of the accusations and the fact that I had no action of any kind taken against me. TEA orchestrated this action against me in order to remove me from Marlin ISD in order to stop a lawsuit which would have shown illegal actions committed by TEA.”

Seabolt referred to a lawsuit the district planned to file against TEA claiming the agency falsified a special accreditation investigation to assign Marlin ISD a failing grade for the 2018-19 school year.

In 2015, the elected board of trustees hired Seabolt as superintendent. In October 2015, the school district received a notice from the TEA, announcing it would close Marlin ISD in July 2016 if the administration did not show significant improvement in student academic performance after failing state standards for four years in a row, according to Tribune-Herald archives.

The district failed state academic standards again in 2016, but the TEA agreed to allow Marlin ISD to continue operating under an abatement agreement. In February 2017, state Education Commissioner Mike Morath appointed a board of managers to replace the elected board of trustees. Morath also appointed Seabolt to continue serving as the superintendent.

Marlin ISD has failed state academic standards since 2011, longer than any other Texas school district, but has continued operating under abatement agreements with the TEA.

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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