After 7 years of state oversight, Texas starts process of returning local control to Marlin ISD

After 7 years of state oversight, Texas starts process of returning local control to Marlin ISD
3 months 5 days 6 hours ago Monday, February 19 2024 Feb 19, 2024 February 19, 2024 4:19 PM February 19, 2024 in News
Source: texastribune.org
Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, far right, said Marlin ISD has made "substantial improvements" since the state took over the district in 2017. The process of returning local control to the Waco-area district has begun and is expected to conclude in 2026, the TEA said this week. Credit: Eli Hartman/The Texas Tribune

"After 7 years of state oversight, Texas starts process of returning local control to Marlin ISD" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The Texas Education Agency has begun the process of handing back local control to the Marlin Independent School District after seven years of state oversight.

The state first took over the district in 2017 and appointed a board of managers to replace the district’s board of trustees following five consecutive years of failing grades in the state’s accountability rating system. State oversight was extended in 2019 due to a lack of improvement.

In 2022 the district received a B in its accountability rating, putting the district on track to regain local control. Marlin ISD will resume full, independent governance when the board of managers’ term expires on Jan. 31, 2026. That process started this week when two elected trustees, Billy Johnson and Rosalyn Dimerson, joined the board of managers.

“This transition signifies an important milestone for Marlin ISD,” TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said in a news release this week. “MISD has made substantial improvements in both academics and governance. I am confident the governing body of Marlin ISD will continue to propel the district forward and allow for a successful resumption of duties for the elected trustees.”

Superintendent Darryl Henson, who was hired in 2020, said he’s thankful to be transitioning back into a locally elected board.

“Within a matter of two years we put in place phenomenal academic systems that track the academic progress of every student,” Henson said. “We made sure that our teachers were supported, not only in their daily instruction but in their content area. Through that level of diligence [and] more importantly, with support of our faculty [and] our students, we showed massive success academically.”

[What happens when Texas takes over a school district like Houston ISD]

The transition will shed light on how the TEA returns control to a district after a state takeover. Last year, the agency removed the board of trustees and superintendent at Houston ISD, the state’s biggest school district, after years of poor academic performance at a single high school. It appointed a board of managers to oversee the district and named Mike Miles as the new superintendent. Earlier this month, the TEA removed La Joya ISD’s school board and superintendent after investigating the district’s previous leadership for allegations of fraud and conflicts of interest.

Marlin ISD, a small school district of about 880 students near Waco, faced criticism from families last year after district officials announced only five out of 33 seniors had met the requirements to graduate and the ceremony was pushed back. More recently, some parents have clashed with the district over grading questions and have said the district should stay under state oversight.

“It’s always great to have elected members from the community serve on the school board; however, in the case of Marlin, based on what happened to my children last year, I have very little faith that they are going to be able to turn the school around in a way that students are going to achieve at levels of most students in the state of Texas,” said Brandolyn Jones, who said she transferred her children to another district after a grade in her son’s report card changed from passing to failing two months after the school year ended and was left unhappy with the district’s explanation.

Henson said they were addressing the parents’ concerns but denied that the district had done anything wrong.

“Marlin ISD is extremely proud of the academic success of our students, and we will continue to treat all students and families with the utmost level of respect and integrity,” Henson said.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/02/16/texas-marlin-isd-takeover/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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