State takeover process faces more heat in Marlin school district

1
classroom

A teacher in the Marlin school district told a state-appointed board of managers that the new administration is mistreating her colleagues and hindering their ability to teach.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reported that elementary school teacher Cynthia Derry told the board at Wednesday’s meeting that unscheduled events, lack of discipline for unruly students, and poor administrative support “negatively impact my ability to teach children who have been deemed academically below their grade levels by at least two years.”

She presented letters from four other teachers, who wished to remain anonymous, citing similar complaints.

Marlin is one of four districts in the state being run by managers appointed by the Texas Education Agency due to repeatedly failing schools. In November, the state announced it would replace the school boards in Houston and Shepherd, in East Texas. The state is currently reviewing applications for positions on the board of managers in Houston to replace its elected school board.

A 2015 law requires the state to take over a district’s school or schools that have received failing ratings for more than four consecutive years. The education agency can elect to shut down the school or take over the district.

Under the law, elected trustees are replaced by appointees selected from a pool of applicants from the community. TEA also appoints a conservator to oversee district operations and send progress reports to the state. The appointments are decided by a team headed by TEA Commissioner Mike Morath.

Such takeovers are drawing controversy in Texas. Some districts don’t seem to do any better under the appointed boards than they had with elected trustees. The constitutionality of removing elected officials, especially in majority-minority areas, is currently being challenged in Houston. And the takeover process is being done with little transparency.

A Texas Monitor request for records related to appointees is being challenged by the TEA, which says the applications of potential appointees is part of an ongoing investigation.

The Texas Monitor contends that those applications are public records, as the investigation has been concluded with the TEA’s decision to replace the elected board.

The Texas Monitor is seeking information on the individuals who applied for the board in Marlin, where appointee Eddie Ellis Jr. was found to have committed a federal misdemeanor charge of theft of government property in 2017.

Ellis, a pastor at St. Paul A.M.E Church in Marlin, obtained disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while operating several businesses, according to court records. Ellis resigned after his conviction was revealed and the state said his appointment was an isolated miscue in the vetting process.

Morath had appointed a five-member board in 2017 to run the Marlin district after its students’ test scores failed to meet state standards for the fifth straight year.

Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].

1 COMMENT

  1. The purpose of schools is to educate children, not indoctrinate them. Education of children is far more important that appeasing the anti education teachers unions and education bureaucrats. If local school districts are incapable of educating children they should be replace. We clearly need a school voucher law.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here