The Marlin Independent School District Board of Managers took no action on suspended Superintendent Michael Seabolt’s contract Wednesday evening, after meeting in closed session for more than two hours.

The board was slated to discuss and possibly take action on the superintendent’s contract. Board member Danny Vickers was absent.

After the meeting, Seabolt said by phone that the lines of communication are now open between his attorney, the district’s newly hired attorneys and the Texas Education Agency.

“There’s at least now some dialogue,” he said. “For five weeks, there was none.”

Seabolt said the situation is complicated because of how members of the board of managers have been replaced and new ones have had to be brought up to speed. The fact that the state education agency is involved compounds the situation, as well, he said.

“Let’s end this,” he said. “I don’t see myself staying superintendent of Marlin, and neither does the (state education) commissioner. I think that bridge is burned.”

Seabolt said the district lost more students this year because of the uncertainty surrounding Marlin ISD’s future and is having a difficult time hiring teachers. He said there are still teacher vacancies in the middle of July, a month before school starts.

‘Witch hunt’

Seabolt has called the district’s investigation into his “duties” a “witch hunt” and a “waste of money.” He said he would accept a voluntary separation agreement from the district, as he did last year, but the board did not approve the agreement that would have released him from his five-year contract.

The state-appointed board of managers voted 4-1 on June 5 to suspend Seabolt and launch an investigation into his performance and the district. Vickers cast the sole dissenting vote.

Assistant Superintendent Remy Godfrey is serving as the district’s acting superintendent.

The five-member board also hired the Austin-based Walsh Gallegos Treviño Russo & Kyle law firm last week as “special counsel for matters pertaining to investigation regarding the affairs of the district and superintendent duties,” according to the agenda for the board’s meeting.

Board members met behind closed doors Wednesday with TEA conservator Jean Bahney and attorneys with Walsh Gallegos for about an hour before investigator Ann Dixon joined them. Dixon is the investigator the board hired.

When Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath appointed the 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. Seabolt’s annual salary was set at $140,000.

Meanwhile, Marlin ISD still faces a threat of closure for the fourth consecutive school year, despite two years of state intervention in the form of the 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, Morath revoked Marlin ISD’s accreditation status for the 2018-19 school year in February, according to a letter from Morath. He also appointed a conservator to oversee the district.

The district’s future depends on the results of an informal review of its accreditation status by TEA. Marlin ISD requested this review, a remedy available to school districts in this situation. The results of the review are still pending, according to 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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