State Education Commissioner Mike Morath has appointed the conservator he assigned to Marlin Independent School District in February as the district’s new interim superintendent, in the wake of former superintendent Michael Seabolt’s resignation.

Morath named conservator Jean Bahney as interim superintendent in a letter sent Monday to the state-appointed board of managers and acting superintendent Remy Godfrey. In the letter, he also appointed a conservator, Diana Vaughn, to replace Bahney.

Bahney will not serve as interim superintendent for longer than the 2019-20 school year, and the board of managers must conduct a superintendent search to find a new leader for the district, Morath wrote.

Seabolt resigned Aug. 8. The superintendent’s resignation came a day after the board unanimously voted to place him on unpaid administrative leave and to initiate the process of terminating his contract. The board had suspended him without pay two months earlier.

Seabolt said he did not receive a buyout from his contract, which was to expire in 2023. 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 overseeing Marlin ISD via the state-appointed board of managers and conservator.

It is unclear what Bahney’s salary as interim superintendent will be. The board of managers must set her salary, but board members did not return calls for comment this week.

Bahney did not return a call for comment Friday.

Morath’s letter stipulates the district must pay Vaughn, the new conservator, $85 an hour, plus any necessary travel expenses. The conservator’s duties are to oversee academic performance, financial management and governance of the district, as well as the general administration of the district.

Morath assigned Bahney to serve as conservator for Marlin ISD in February, when he revoked the district’s accreditation status because it had failed state accountability ratings based on standardized exam scores for the past seven years, according to a February letter from Morath to the district.

In her first four months on duty as conservator, Bahney charged the district more than $30,000, according to reports she filed.

Godfrey, assistant superintendent to Seabolt, had been serving as the district’s acting superintendent until Bahney’s promotion to interim 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 Morath appointed the five-member board of managers in 2017, he also declared Seabolt would remain as superintendent. The board of managers renewed Seabolt’s contract twice after positive evaluations from the board, Seabolt said.

His most recent contract renewal occurred in February of last year.

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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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