Marlin school district Superintendent Michael Seabolt was suspended by the district’s board of managers on Wednesday, but his attorneys argue the action is invalid because of how the board handled the vote.
That board voted 4-1 to suspend Seabolt and investigate his performance, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. Assistant Superintendent Remy Godfrey will now serve as acting superintendent.
The vote came after the Texas Education Agency pushed for the move. The board was appointed by the TEA in 2017 to help the district get back on track academically after several years of poor student performance. The agency said last year it would no longer recognize the Marlin district as a Texas public school system but changed its mind and granted the district an abatement agreement that allowed it to stay open.
“I’m a firm believer that when you have teachers and students complaining about how the school is being run and teachers are saying they are not getting any support, then that starts with leadership,” board member Eddie Ellis told the newspaper after the meeting.
Board member Danny Vickers, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the TEA hasn’t “brought us up to speed on their reasons for pushing for Dr. Seabolt’s suspension.”
Vickers also cast the only vote against a motion to allow board President Billy Johnson to hire an outside firm to conduct the investigation. That move was also a point of contention by Adams, Lynch & Loftin, the law firm representing Seabolt. Attorneys said delegating the investigative powers to a third party exceeds the authority granted to the board by the state education code.
“Nowhere is the board authorized to delegate its responsibility to employ and evaluate the superintendent,” the letter states, according to the Tribune-Herald.
The law firm also argued that TEA conservator Jean Bahney lacks the authority to “either direct the board of managers appointed by the education commissioner” or “to take any action or to disapprove of any action taken by the board of managers.” Those attorneys also said the suspension is not valid because it came from Bahney’s directive.