Marlin ISD (copy)

Marlin ISD is pushing for another abatement agreement with the state so it can remain open.

The Marlin Independent School District board of managers will meet Wednesday to place Superintendent Michael Seabolt on paid administrative leave, as directed by a state conservator last week, and possibly authorize an independent investigation into the district and superintendent.

The meeting is scheduled to start at noon in the Marlin Middle School Library, 678 Success Lane.

Texas Education Agency conservator Jean Bahney directed the board of managers May 29 to place Seabolt on paid administrative leave, “pending further board action,” after a motion to suspend Seabolt failed.

A conservator has the authority to direct the board and oversee the general administration of the district, according to a letter from the state education commissioner to the board of managers.

Other items on Wednesday’s agenda include possible action to appoint an acting superintendent and to hire an independent agent to investigate “district affairs as well as the superintendent’s performance of duties,” the agenda states. A.J. Crabill, TEA deputy commissioner of governance, also will give a presentation.

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 based on standardized exam scores for seven consecutive years.

As a result, state Education Commissioner Mike Morath revoked Marlin ISD’s accreditation status for the 2018-2019 school year in February. He also appointed Bahney as conservator. This could result in the closure of the district as early as July 1, according to a February letter Morath sent Seabolt and the board of managers.

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.

TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said the agency has conducted the informal review and it is pending a final decision. There is no set deadline.

The district faced the same possibility of closure the past three school years and has continued operating under abatement agreements with the TEA. Seabolt has said he expects the district of 835 students will receive yet another abatement agreement this school year.

But the most recent abatement agreement calls for Morath to revoke Marlin ISD’s accreditation and shut it down if the district receives an “unacceptable” rating for academic accountability, according to the February letter.

Marlin ISD received a 2018 academic accountability rating of F, the lowest possible rating.

TEA installed a board of managers at Marlin ISD in February 2017, after the district failed state accountability standards for six consecutive years. The board of managers replaced the district’s elected board of trustees.

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

Seabolt started in Marlin in summer 2015 with a mandate to turn the district around. He guided the district through its first abatement agreement 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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