Waco ISD superintendent resigns after being arrested for possession of marijuana

Waco ISD Board of Trustees President Pat Atkins announced on Thursday that superintendent Marcus Nelson had handed in his resignation following possession of marijuana charges. Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist

By Matthew Muir | Staff Writer

Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. A. Marcus Nelson officially resigned Thursday night in the wake of his arrest on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession on March 6. Nelson delivered his resignation via a letter to the Waco ISD Board of Trustees, who announced it at Thursday night’s meeting.

Nelson noted the controversy and division his arrest caused and wrote that his resignation was for the good of the community.

“The discussion has become more about me and my poor decisions than our schools, our students and their success,” Nelson said. “I have to acknowledge that people disagree about what consequences I should face, and if this debate continues, I fear that it may end up dividing this community and distracting us from what should be our focus – the kids.”

Waco ISD Board of Trustees President Pat Akins praised Nelson’s work with Waco ISD.

“Dr. Nelson is a man with great talent and tremendous gifts, but like all of us he’s also flawed, and at times a broken man,” Akins said.

Akins went on to explain the need for Waco ISD to move forward in Nelson’s absence.

“I also want you to know that what’s happening in our community is bigger than one man,” Akins said.

Nelson’s resignation was announced after nearly three hours of closed-door deliberations by the Waco ISD Board of Trustees on Thursday night. The board previously met in a closed-door session on Tuesday night, but they failed to reach a decision on Nelson before the meeting was adjourned after more than four hours.

Community opinion was split in the days leading up to Nelson’s resignation. A change.org petition in support of Nelson garnered more than 5,800 supporters by the start of Thursday night’s meeting. Conversely, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported the story of a Waco ISD special education aide who was given the choice to resign or be fired after being arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge, noting the double standard between the aide and Nelson.

Julie Sykora, a Waco resident who has had numerous family members work for Waco ISD, attended the meeting. said that while tough to hear, Nelson’s resignation was the right move.

“It’s so sad that this had to happen,” Sykora said. “I think now like they were saying in [the conference,] let’s go forward.”

Larrye Weaver, who also attended the meeting, calls himself a “concerned citizen” and has five children who were all put through Waco ISD schools. Weaver praised Nelson for considering the needs of the community.

“Offering his resignation shows a great degree of wisdom,” Weaver said. “He probably did the right thing because some are of the opinion that with that kind of blemish it’s hard to lead some folks.”

Nelson, who has held the position of Waco ISD superintendent since June 2017, was arrested on March 6 and charged with a misdemeanor of marijuana possession.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Nelson was pulled over by a state trooper for driving in the passing lane on US Highway 190 near Hearne. His car was searched after the trooper smelled marijuana, which resulted in less than two ounces of marijuana being found on the passenger seat. Nelson was held in the Robertson County jail overnight and was released the next morning.

Nelson has already agreed to a plea deal, which includes a $500 fine and 90-day diversion program. At the conclusion of the program, the charge will be dismissed.