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Marlin residents gather to discuss fate of school district

Marlin residents gather to discuss fate of school district

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Marlin residents used the Save Our Schools community meeting Wednesday night to voice complaints about the newly hired superintendent, local media and state testing requirements in a session designed to build support for the local school district.

The Texas Education Agency recently revoked Marlin Independent School District’s accreditation, with plans to close the district in July if the district doesn’t improve academic rigor.

The Marlin High School auditorium filled almost to capacity in a public meeting held by local public officials in an effort to rally the community around the schools.

Few questions were asked. Instead, residents spoke of the importance of prayer, community involvement or supporting teachers, often bringing the crowd to a standing ovation throughout the two-hour meeting.

“God is the only one who’s going to be able to do this thing,” Marlin resident Todnechia Mitchell said.

Other residents spoke of their surprise upon hearing the state’s announcement that the district could close next year.

“It was a sneak attack,” Mitchell said.

The meeting became heated when residents booed Marlin ISD Superintendent Michael Seabolt when he placed the blame of the failing campuses on the teachers.

“It’s our jobs as educators to teach the children. We didn’t do an adequate job, but we are now,” Seabolt said.

“We cannot continue to do the same things and expect different results. That’s the definition of insanity.”

State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, and State Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-College Station, also spoke, promising to advocate for the district in the state capital.

“Your support is duly noted in those meetings,” Kacal said.

Failing academic standards

Marlin ISD failed to meet state academic standards the past four years, bringing the total to five failing years out of the past 10.

State law dictates districts that fail financial or academic state standards four consecutive years must be closed.

Marlin Primary Academy is the only campus in the state that has failed accountability standards eight consecutive years in spite of repeated state intervention, including monitors and reconstitution plans that are required if a school fails accountability two years in a row.

Kashmere High School in Houston Independent School District has six consecutive years of failing state accountability standards.

Of the approximately 1,200 Texas school districts, 329 failed one year, 120 two years, 119 three years and 37 four years.

TEA Information Specialist Lauren Callahan said the reason there’s a drastic drop in the number of campuses who fail standards a fourth year is because the reconstitution plans are effective.

“These reconstitution plans, more often than not, work,” she said in an earlier interview.

Parents are concerned about the state ratings, but believe with more parent involvement and student focus they can be improved.

Marlin resident Carl Mayes has a son who is a 10th-grader at Marlin High School.

Mayes said he attended Marlin and thinks that if more parents get involved, their students will perform better.

“It’s not about us no more. It’s about the school,” he said. “It’s a good school.”

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Related to this story

Marlin Independent School District Superintendent Michael Seabolt said during Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting that he thinks Commissioner Michael Williams will decide before the end of 2015 whether the district should stay open.

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