Concerns over finances, School Board ‘climate’ led to Webb’s decision to withdraw as Hannibal superintendent

webb

Roy Webb holds Hannibal Pirates garb on Jan. 26 minutes after he was announced as the Hannibal School District's next superintendent. Webb served as superintendent of Quincy Public Schools from 2015-22. He informed the Hannibal Board of Education in a letter sent Thursday that he had changed his mind about taking the job. | MRN file photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Roy Webb cited concerns about the Hannibal School District’s financial picture and the “climate” of the School Board when he did an about-face this week and reneged on a signed contract to become the district’s next superintendent

Webb, who retired as superintendent of the Quincy School District in June 2022, was announced as the Hannibal superintendent on Jan. 25. He informed the Hannibal Board of Education six weeks later he had a change of heart in a letter sent Thursday.

Muddy River News made a Sunshine Law request on Friday for Webb’s resignation letter, but an attorney for the Hannibal School District denied the request. MRN already had started efforts to appeal that decision, but a source outside of the school administration provided the letter to MRN. 

In the letter, Webb gave two reasons for his decision: 

  • He said he appreciated the School Board’s service to Hannibal and called them “all good people,” but believed the School Board’s climate “would be difficult for me to excel within.”
  • He claimed the Hannibal School District had “inaccurate” finances and was “facing serious financial needs, a significant deficit this year and the risk of running out of funds.”

Webb had concerns that the February School Board featured “in open session … quite a discussion, amendments and split votes,” citing “a concern to see votes contrary to the superintendent’s recommendation and his or her evaluations.” He was concerned about the School Board’s failure to get a recommendation from “the 20-year leader of your district,” apparently referring to current Superintendent Susan Johnson.

“Not sure what would have happened with four votes without some sort of due process to relieve or reclassify an administrator,” Webb wrote. “Maybe Missouri law allows that. I was recently told the discussion went beyond work record (sic) to misinformation and rumor in at least two discussions. If I was one of those individuals talked about, not sure I could remain in the district. I am sure what keeps them in place is their dedication and loyalty to the staff and students.

“I appreciate an atmosphere where people can say anything and then work out solutions. Yet, it can be a bit chaotic. I don’t think I can be a part of this type of climate.”

Webb also noted in his letter that the Hannibal School District’s finances “have been inaccurate for years.” He did not elaborate on how he came to that conclusion.

“I have always done what I felt is right for the district in my charge,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, (the district) may need someone with much more Missouri law and school finance knowledge than I possess. … You are now facing serious financial needs, a significant deficit this year and the risk of running out of funds. Ted is great, but new on the job. He needs mentorship and guidance.”

Webb was referring to Ted Sampson, the district’s chief operating officer. Sampson replaced Rich Stilley, who retired at the end of the 2022-23 school year. Sampson previously was the principal of Hannibal High School.

Webb wrote that the decision was “very difficult” because he would not be fulfilling a commitment he made.

“I will let people down,” he wrote. “People I have not known for long but I have grown to respect. This was probably the toughest decision of my life.”

Webb told the board his “public response” would be Hannibal needed someone with different skills that he possessed.

“I feel I am doing what is best,” he concluded. “I will take 100 percent of the responsibility. I understand this will not be well received. It will also degrade my reputation. I am at peace with this decision.”

Johnson, who had planned to retire at the end of the current school year, has agreed to stay another year. Although Webb had signed a contract, district officials say they will not pursue any legal action against Webb.

Johnson provided a prepared statement to Muddy River News.

“I have nothing but respect for Mr. Webb, and I know this was a difficult decision for him,” she wrote. “I also recognize the importance of unity when facing obstacles and prioritizing our students’ well-being. In Hannibal, we uphold a legacy of collaboration and dedication to meeting the needs of every student. I am committed to continuing this long-standing history; and in doing so, the next superintendent will be set up for success and ensure a bright future for our students.”

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