WACO, Texas (KWTX) Pastors from several local churches said Monday they are standing with Waco ISD Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson and thousands of residents have signed a petition in support of Nelson, who was arrested last week on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
In fact, more than twice the number of people have signed the petition than the 1,567 residents who voted district-wide in the in the May 2014 School Board Election, the last time an at large seat on the board was contested.
The petition expresses confidence in Nelson, saying, “A misdemeanor should be treated exactly for what the dictionary says it is it is, a minor wrongdoing. This minor wrongdoing should be addressed, but not at the expense of our children and their futures.”
Waco School Board members will meet at 6:30 p.m. on March 19 to discuss the situation and Board President Pat Atkins has vowed the board will “not rush to any judgment.”
“The board did a great job in selecting Dr. Nelson to be our superintendent,” Carver Park Baptist Church Pastor Gaylon Foreman said Monday.
“We are convinced that as they unanimously voted for him that they did the right thing,”
"He's lived up to everything that he said he would and he's done a great job and so we believe with that in mind that we should support him with all that is within us."
Nelson was booked into the Robertson County Jail just before 11 p.m. last Wednesday and charged with possession of marijuana less than 2 ounces.
He was released 12 hours later on his own recognizance, according to online records.
He was arrested after a Department of Public Safety trooper on routine patrol spotted a 2007 GMC Yukon traveling north on U.S. 190 south of Hearne in the left lane and not passing, DPS Trooper Jimmy Morgan.
The trooper pulled the Yukon over, smelled marijuana, searched the vehicle, seized a small quantity of the drug and seized it, Morgan said.
The pastors said Monday they will fight to keep Nelson in Waco.
"Nelson is like a son to most of us and we are going to support him like a father would support his son,” Pastor Larry Weaver said.
“He's not just a newcomer, he's been proven by the system that he's the right man for this position that he is holding and we want him to stay in Waco."
Patrick Riley, the senior pastor at Ministerios Bethania, said Nelson’s arrest is just an example on how we are all human and we all make mistakes.
"It just shows that he's human like any of us, we need to focus on all the good that is done. Our kids right now need someone like Dr. Nelson, he represents so much and so many hearts, so many people,” Riley said.
"As human beings we tend to focus on the negative, when actually all the good outweighs that one thing that we don't even know if he did or not."
The pastors said they are hoping the school board won't rush to judgment without knowing all the facts and they are encouraging everyone in the community to come to the meeting on March 19 to support Nelson.