Nelson

Waco ISD Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson signed a plea deal Friday with the Robertson County District Attorney’s Office on his misdemeanor marijuana possession charge. If he completes a 90-day diversion program, the charge will be dismissed.

Waco Independent School District Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson entered a plea agreement with the Robertson County District Attorney’s Office to have his misdemeanor marijuana possession charge dismissed if he completes a 90-day diversion program, Robertson County District Attorney W. Coty Siegert said in a statement.

A state trooper arrested Nelson on March 6 after stopping him for driving in the passing lane of U.S. Highway 190 outside Hearne, about 55 miles southwest of Waco. The trooper smelled marijuana, which gave him cause to search Nelson’s vehicle, and found less than 2 ounces of marijuana in the passenger seat, according to an arrest affidavit.

Nelson was booked into the Robertson County Jail in Franklin and released the next day on his own recognizance.

“That’s a common option we offer to offenders who have cooperated and have no criminal history,” Siegert said of the diversion program. “If he goes 90 days without any problems, his charge will be dismissed.”

Nelson paid $500 as part of the deal and signed the agreement at the Robertson County Courthouse on Friday morning.

The Waco ISD school board plans to meet Tuesday night to discuss Nelson’s arrest. No agenda has been posted.

School board president Pat Atkins said each board member will have to decide how much weight to give Nelson’s plea agreement, as well as a Change.org petition signed by 5,500 people as of Friday evening, when they discuss Nelson’s future with the district Tuesday.

“The primary concern for all seven board members is what’s best for the students,” Atkins said. “That’s not to say we don’t sincerely appreciate taxpayers and parents and even staff sharing their perspectives and their thoughts, but we’re not tallying how many say yes and how many say no. It’s going to be board members making some really personal decisions as to what’s best for the students, and I think honorable people can look at this set of circumstances and come to very different conclusions as to the path forward.”

Atkins said he has asked the district’s human resources department to explain to the board Tuesday how Waco ISD has previously handled similar situations with staff.

The meeting is set to start at 6:30 p.m. at the district administration building, 501 Franklin Ave.

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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