Two members of Hannibal Public School District Board accuse Susan Johnson of insubordination

435675928_7371428339639509_2858917803381778533_n

Scott Hawes, Tysa Coleman, and J'Nelle Lee at the Hannibal Public School Board Meeting Wednesday night Photo by Megan Duncan

HANNIBAL, Mo. — The Hannibal Public School Board voted in a 5-2 decision for Susan Johnson to continue as the superintendent for the 2024-2025 school year.

Hannibal School Board members Jeff Evans and Scott Hawes voted against rehiring Johnson, stating she was engaging in insubordinate behavior. 

When Board member Tysa Coleman moved to have the discussion regarding Johnson’s contract in open session instead of closed session as it was on the agenda, it was approved in a 5 to 2 vote.

Evans and Hawes asked that it remain in closed session to not publicly discuss personnel matters. 

Mundle said he didn’t think it was legal to discuss employee contracts in open, but after researching the matter, he found it is legal with the vote of the board.

“We just need to get this out in the open. That’s what people are saying, and Susan is okay with it,” he said. 

Hawes said he has lost trust in Johnson after Webb’s resignation was reported. He claimed Johnson went into the schools and accused himself and Evans of leaking Webb’s resignation letter, implying it was a federal offense.

“There’s not been a public apology for accusing members of the board of releasing Roy Webb’s resignation letter, which was totally untrue because the accusation was that board members broke the law, that’s a very serious thing to make the accusation when it’s not true,” Hawes said.

Blane Mundle, president of the board, said he cannot force anyone to apologize.

Evans listed behaviors he had written down. He claimed Johnson attempts to control board conversations and agenda items, has failed to carry through directives from the board, puts together committees with an intended outcome, and manipulates communication with outside sources to avoid the Sunshine Law.

He also referred to a report in July when he provided discussion points for a possible update of the district’s code of conduct which he said was released with the implication that it would be final policy. 

Several of the points, such as employees refraining from various behaviors outside of work along with requiring employees to report one another for inappropriate conduct or language outside of work, had district employees up in arms over how much control the school had over their personal lives.

Evans claimed Johnson met with teacher groups and facilitated attacks on the board over the code of code points which were only intended for board members to see for private discussion points.

Evans also claimed Johnson engaged in negative comments about the board with Roy Webb, who was set to take her place as superintendent in June but resigned in March. Evans said that conversation was one of the reasons Webb retracted.

Evans stated Johnson dismissed accusations of staff misconduct as rumors and “blocked the board from hearing witnesses about staff misconduct with valid testimonies.” 

Muddy River News was provided with a recording of one of Johnson’s meetings with a teacher group. Muddy River News requested to attend one of these meetings and our request was denied by the Hannibal School District. The recording is linked below.

Board member Tysa Coleman asked Evans to name what situation he was referring to.

“The blocked witnesses involve other personnel who have not given their permission to discuss it publicly. But you know exactly what situation I am referring to,” Evans told Coleman.

Coleman agreed that she knew what Evans was referring to, and said Johnson has not blocked anything. She reminded Evans that she previously told him, that as a mandated reporter, that the situation should be reported to law enforcement and the Children’s Division, and as a mandated reporter Evans has not reported it yet.

“I gave you personally how to report, who to report it to–several different law enforcement agencies. Instead, you did a personal investigation and wanted to choose your own law enforcement to investigate that. You wanted to put a victim in front of this board and bypass any reporting. That is improper,” Coleman said.

Evans told Coleman the situation did not include a minor and was not a situation that called for mandated reporting. He also said the information he has came second-hand and he does not have a name or enough information to report the situation.

“That is not the information you’ve reported before,” Coleman responded.

Board member Stacey Graves said “half truths and innuendo are not a way to accuse anyone of something.”

“As far as Susan Johnson is concerned, I’m a firm believer in her integrity. She does what she has to do to make this our district the best it can be. It’s not always the popular thing to do when you’re in her position,” she said. “But to talk about her being insubordinate. I think she pulled up a lot of stuff the first 10 months of the school year.”

Several patrons came forward to testify their confidence and appreciation for Johnson.

Kindra Szarka, principal at the Early Childhood Center, thanked the board for renewing Johnson’s contract. Szarka has known Johnson since Johnson was the principal at Eugene Field Elementary.

Szarka said most of what they have on Johnson is “based on assumption and not facts.”

“She hired me 21 years ago as a shy, introverted, and inexperienced kindergarten teacher. I am the leader at the early childhood center that I am today because of Susan Johnson. She believed in me, she encouraged me and she has made me believe in myself,” Szarka said. “She has a very hard job and none of us are perfect–none of us in this room are perfect.”

Sarah Parsons, 6th grade math teacher, said she is ashamed how some of the board members have treated Johnson.

“We have a zero percent tolerance for bullying and two of you did that to her tonight. I’m very disappointed in our board and how you just treated our leader we’re lucky that she decided to stay,” she said. “She comes into my classroom. I’ve not seen anybody else in my classroom and eight years of board members in my classroom which is a shame.”

Former Hannibal teacher Gail Park, noted that Hawes and Evans did not want to discuss Johnson’s contract in public. She also took a stand for Evans. 

“I’m a supporter of Dr. Evans, if he was in your class, you would love him. He shows up. He’s prepared. He does his homework. He asked questions and if he doesn’t understand the question. He wants it clarified. He has ideas and discussions,” she said.

After the meeting, Johnson expressed her commitment to the district.

“Although tonight was difficult, I hope it allows our district to move forward and do what we do best, and that is take care of our children,” she said. “Whether they were here or elsewhere tonight, I appreciate those who have been supportive of me and know my character. I wish nothing but the best for the school system.”

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Current Weather

TUE
89°
56°
WED
76°
56°
THU
82°
66°
FRI
80°
61°
SAT
79°
62°

Trending Stories