WACO, TX — Dr. Marcus Nelson resigned from his position as the Waco ISD superintendent Thursday evening, two weeks after he was arrested in Robertson County for marijuana possession.
The school board took no action at Thursday's meeting, but Waco ISD Board President Pat Atkins read a statement written by Nelson, in which he tendered his resignation.
The district released the separation agreement made between Nelson and the district, which included when Nelson's contract would expire, compensation and future employment eligibility with the district.
The agreement said that Nelson would receive a total of $96,000 from the district over the course of four months for his voluntary resignation.
Nelson's benefits, such as health, will end at the end of month.
The agreement also stated that Nelson is free to still apply for Waco ISD positions and is not disqualified from future employment. However, Nelson acknowledged that the district would not be obligated to rehire him.
“The $96,000 first and foremost in recognition of his willingness to resign and to allow the community to heal and move forward and it’s also, I think recognition of the success we’ve had over the last two years, not only academically also in unifying and leading this community in the support of public schools," Atkins said.
During his tenure, five out of six campuses requiring improvement, met standards.
Waco NAACP President Dr. Peaches Henry, who spoke in favor of Nelson staying as superintendent, said he provided a transformative vision for the community to prevent the closure of five schools.
"Dr. Nelson came in and provided us with a positive narrative, a can do narrative. A can do narrative. The community accepted it and the community moved forward. And it must be said the community worked very hard," Henry said.
She said his resignation was not the outcome she hoped for.
"We're all human. We are flawed. We made mistakes. I thought the work the superintendent has done in the district could've outweighed that," Henry said.
On Tuesday night, Eddy Gibson who opposed the superintendent keeping his position told Central Texas News Now he didn't want to take away Dr. Nelson's performance, but he said there are legal consequences to actions.
"You're giving a double standard to the kids. You're telling them that if you do drugs, if you do this you can get a second chance. OK, you get a second chance but there's also consequences to the first one you did," Gibson said.
Other community members like Michael Parker anticipated the superintendent to leave his position.
"He made the statement that he knows he has lost the trust and the confidence of the community. That's part of his contract," Parker said.
Waco High School Student Brigitte Eichenberg who spoke during a public meeting on Tuesday stated that Dr. Nelson should be held at the same standards as students and staff. She said she respected the decision the school board and Nelson made on Thursday.
"It definitely saddens me to see Dr. Nelson go. He did do so many wonderful things for our district. I do believe the board and Dr. Nelson had the students and what was best for the district in mind," Eichenberg said.
Nelson agreed to a pre-trial diversion deal with Robertson County on the misdemeanor charge. In 90 days, the case will be dismissed.
After Nelson's resignation, Atkins hopes both sides move forward and continue their focus on student success.
"I think we need to fully appreciate what we've done as a community and the potential that we can continue working together and really make these the public schools our children deserve," Atkins said.
Peaches and Eichenberg both agree with his hope for the future.
"My message to the community is for us to stay united because we will move through this difficult time. We will work, stand together and we will rise together," Henry said.
Atkins anticipates the board to name an interim superintendent by Thursday.
A series of staff and community meetings will follow to receive feedback about programs and characteristics of the next superintendent of schools.
A special meeting was held to discuss Waco ISD superintendent Marcus Nelson's future on Tuesday and on Thursday.
The special meeting on Tuesday had 243 people in attendance.
Waco ISD superintendent Marcus Nelson was arrested for possession of marijuana. Nelson agreed to a pre-trial diversion agreement and paid fines associated with the arrest.
In 90 days, his case will be dismissed.
According to the Robertson County Sheriff's Office, Nelson was arrested just before 11 p.m. on March 6 by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.
According to DPS, Nelson was pulled over because he was "camping" in the left lane when there were no other cars present, meaning he was in a passing lane with no cars to pass.
When he was pulled over, the trooper noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the car. After a vehicle search, marijuana was found.
Nelson, 46, was charged with possession of marijuana less than two ounces.
Nelson was released from the Robertson County Jail on March 7.
Nelson was selected as Waco ISD's superintendent in 2017.