Duncan resigns as Norwalk principal, will oversee special education students

Norwalk High School Principal Robert Duncan is resigning, effective July 31. But he won't be leaving the district. The Norwalk school board voted Tuesday to hire him as the director of student services for three years starting Aug. 1. The move is coming with about an $8,000 paycut: Duncan is making $96,627 as principal and will make $88,579 in his new position.
Cary Ashby
Jul 25, 2010


Norwalk High School Principal Robert Duncan is resigning, effective July 31. But he won’t be leaving the district.

The Norwalk school board voted Tuesday to hire him as the director of student services for three years starting Aug. 1. The move is coming with about an $8,000 paycut: Duncan is making $96,627 as principal and will make $88,579 in his new position.

“I’m very excited about this new position. It aligns itself with my personal interests and goals,” Duncan said. “That’s not to say it wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I consulted with my family and prayed a great deal about it.”

Being the director of student services means Duncan will have three main responsibilities: Overseeing special education students, the preschool program and the Electronic Management Information System, which the district uses to communicate demographic information with the state.

Duncan calls the new position “the best of both worlds,” saying he will be helping students and working with many administrators. He said special education is “absolutely” one of his passions and first loves.

He was the special education supervisor for the Huron, Erie, Ottawa Educational Service Center from 1993 to 1995. Duncan was a special education liaison for Mansfield Senior High School from 1988 through 1993 and an adult workshop specialist for Christie Lane School and Workshop in 1983. He earned a bachelor of science in special education from Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in 1987.

Superintendent Wayne Babcanec is pleased with the move, citing Duncan’s previous experience in special education.

“Mr. Duncan requested the change,” Babcanec said before Tuesday’s meeting. “This was Mr. Duncan’s decision.

“He felt it was time for a change,” the superintendent continued. “At this point in his career, he wanted to make a change and take on a new challenge.”

Babcanec praised Duncan’s multiple accomplishments as NHS principal. During Duncan’s tenure, he was in charge of planning the new high school, which opened in 2001, and moving from the old facility (now Main Street School) to the new building. Babcanec also said Duncan revamped the special education program so that teachers and aides are sent into “regular classrooms” to help special needs students instead of having them go to another classroom.

NHS also achieved an “excellent” status designation on the state report card for the 2006-2007 academic year. NHS previously had been designated an “effective” school.

Duncan said he is proud of the well-rounded curriculum at NHS and has enjoyed seeing the students go through four years of high school.

In June 2005, the district suspended Duncan for three days without pay for submitting an inaccurate dire drill report to the Ohio Fire Marshal’s Office.

Board member Janet Broz abstained from voting Tuesday. She said later her decision wasn’t out of a personal vendetta, but was about being fair.

“I’m abstaining because I believe that starting at this position at the top of the pay scale is not fair to other administrators within the school district. In my 10-plus years of service on the school board, I’ve never seen this done,” she said while reading a prepared statement.

In mid-March, the board approved Duncan’s three-year contract as principal, along with Norwalk Middle School Principal James Hagemeyer. Broz was the only dissenting vote. She said at the time she couldn’t “in good conscience and faith vote for Mr. Duncan,” noting it was “nothing personal” against Hagemeyer.

Duncan, the high school principal since 2000, joined the district in 1995 as the high school assistant principal. He didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting because he was at BGSU all day assisting with job interviews for potential teachers.

The district posted and advertised the high school principal position starting today.

“I don’t anticipate an interim. I expect great interest both inside the school district and outside the school district,” Babcanec said.

The superintendent wants to hire someone as soon as possible, but is looking for the best candidate.

Paul Hiszem was the full-time director of student services in 2006, when the position was created. During the next school year, he shared the position part-time with Lynn Cole. Both people had retired before taking the job.

“I’d rather have one person in that position than two people who are part-time,” Babcanec said. “It puts Mr. Duncan in an area of specialty. It matches his expertise.”



congrats. i will be calling on you soon for a job working with special needs children.


Finally a change. This was a long time coming. I hope this is an easy transition for the students and staff. I do hope a candidate is chosen who is well qualified and who is not a part of the "the good old boy team" of which Mr. Duncan and Mr Babcanec are a part of. I hope Mr Duncan will not be using chewing tobacco around the special ed students he will be working with.


I went to school with Bob. I also have two kids that go to NHS now. Mr. Duncan is a class act. I think he's been a terrific principal. The kids will miss him. I'm glad he's going to be doing what he loves. Good luck to you! "

David Deerest.

$96,627 as principal of Norwalk High????


swiss family

although i like and respect Mr. Duncan.. i have never heard of this position in the past?? who held that position before Mr. Duncan took it over...and how much were they paid for their services??

i always thought that the principal would already be in charge of the "special needs" kids, and the preschoolers.. and the electronic communication that goes with it.. i didn't think that you would need someone to be in charge of just this group...

so lets see , if we pay the principal $96,627.00 and now we are going to pay this position $88,579.00.... so for just 2 positions in our teaching staff, we are paying$185,206.00...wow that seems like a lot of money to pay out for just 2 people.. especially in such a small town!!

i would have to agree with Mrs. Broz, and say that if Mr. Duncan wants that position, he should have to start at the bottom of the pay scale for that position...or why don't they put that job up for bid, so other people could apply for that position?? how much would the current "special ed's " teacher do that job for?? it might be profitable, and worthwhile to explore all of the options...otherwise, look out taxpayers, when it's time to vote, you can bet that will be a new levy sent our way , to pay for all of this


This is why you have not heard teacher complaining about their pay in Norwalk in a long, long time.

The position was previous done by two people, Paul Hiszem and Lynn Cole.

Personally I fell Mr. Duncan should have been fire or at the very least, heavily repirmanded for the falsification stunt on the fire-drills, but apparently Mr Babcanec sees something in him that a lot of other people don't

just plain disgusted

I don't want to hear another word about how poor this school district is after reading these salaries. The school fees need not be raised either. All the years I have had to send hand sanitizer and dry erase markers for the teachers what a joke!!


Was the Student Services position open for interviews? Were others asked to interview? Sounds like something is fishy in the Norwalk School District. The school board needs to develop a back bone and clean some house.

Richard Cranium

Bob is a very good educator. He cares about all the kids. Everyone who ever said he "hated" them, it was just the opposite. He wanted to make these kids do the right thing. So what if the man smokes or chews. How many students do this with their parents permission? Come on people, quit picking on the guy. Do you remember the good old days when all the teachers smoked in the lounge? It smelled worse than a bar. Heck, back then most of the students smoked in the bathroom.

Anyway, the teachers and staff need to be well compensated for what they do. They have tons of schooling (which cost a fortune)and have to educate our children. Remember our kids are the future. Now if you want, we can start holding teacher classes at EHOVE and after 60 days of schooling, we can hire them and start paying our educators $10 an hour. Imagine what you would get.

Common people use some common sense. Pay these people correctly. And keep up the good work Bob and the entire school system!!!!

And as for you swiss, if you want to make that kind of money then go to school and get educated like them and go through all the certfications they have too, as well as putting up with all of you arm-chair quarterbacks. And no I am not a teachers or one of Bob's supporters. Actually my child was one that always said, "Mr. Duncan just hates me." That was never the case. He just wanted him to do the right thing. After my son graduated, my son told me that he now saw how Mr. Duncan just wanted him to do well in school and to do the right thing.

swiss family

to "my2cents" obviously your teachers taught you how to read, but you have trouble with "comprehension" because you totally twisted what i said...

go back and read, and try to understand what it was that i posted.. i said that i like and respect the job that Mr. Duncan has done, but i thought that the position of principal, that he held , would have already included being in charge of the special needs program, and also the pre schoolers!!!

i think, as do many others that i have talked to, thought that being the principal, meant that you were overseeing all of the schools student.. and the key word there was ALL.why do they separate the "special needs students?" and not the 10th grade girls??? like saying he oversees everyone except the 10th grade girls?? it just doesn't make any sense???

if the government for some reason, makes this position , excluded from all of the other positions, then there should be a bonus for the person who oversees them, kind of like a teacher gets a small bonus for coaching tennis, or track.. i said a SMALL bonus.. not a position that pays in the neighborhood of close to $100,00.00.. that is ridiculous...

and i feel that the position should have been bid out, so others could have applied for the position, which would have probably brought down the salary for this position... i think that if Mr. Duncan wants to take over this position, then he should start out at the starting wage for that position,like anyone else would have to do, .Iam sure that there are many other people who are qualified for that position, who would have applied for it, if it would have been posted, and probably at a much lower salary.


I use to sleep with my step dad when my mom was away lol he's my man when she not home

Clark W

swiss family,

The position WAS posted for a significant amount of time. No one else applied, probably because it didn't pay what can be earned in other districts. It's an administrative position, which requires a high level of education.

BTW, a job like that isn't "bid out"...It doesn't work like that. You post the job, and interview qualified applicants, then go from there.

swiss family

Clark, excuse me for asking, but where exactly was this job posted , as you say????

i really don't understand why these duties aren't included in the Principal's responsibilities seems like the "special ed" kids, and the pre schoolers, should already be included in the reign of the principal... it is almost like being the plant manager of the m&m factory, and being in charge of all of the m&m's.. except the yellow ones...it just doesn't make any sense... and if, for some reason, you need someone to be in charge of just the yellow m&m's why on earth would you pay them soooo much money..

if the Norwalk school system can afford to spend so much money in administration salaries, almost $185,000.00 for just 2 positions, i hope that it is a good long time before they have the nerve to ask the Norwalk taxpayers, for any more money for the schools!!!

Clark W

swiss family,

You can get that information simply by contacting the Board of Education office. However, the position was posted internally, and was opened to outside applicants as well. It's not something you'd see in the newspaper's help-wanted ads.

As far as the $185,000 figure, you seem to be skewing that a bit. Some of that was the existing principal's salary,so it was already on the books.

As far as the remainder of the $185,000 you keep mentioning, much of that was on the books as well, but it was divided between two employees. Now, one person is doing that job.

swiss family

to "Clark" if the position was "posted internally" like you say, why then is it that the "special ed" teacher that they currently have up there, never saw the posting????

isn't that the idea of posting a job in the first place?? to get all of the qualified people who might be interested in the position to apply for the job, thus making it a better selection to chose from, and by getting the most for our money to fill this position!!

i think that Mr. Duncan was "back doored" into this position, without interviewing any other candidates.. and he was given top pay for that position, instead of starting at the introductory pay for someone starting in that position

and as far as the cost of doing the math for what we are paying out to just 2 administrative positions... do the math yourself... the principal was paid $96,627.00.. that is what Mr. Duncan, the current principal was paid(it says so in the article)..and now for his newly accepted position, he will be making $88,579.00( that is in the paper as well.. so for just 2 people, we are paying out $185,206.00... do the math yourself... so comparatively.. we are , for 2 people.. we are paying in the $200,000.00 mark to rum our small town school system, and the president of the United States makes, to run the entire country, $400,000.00.. it sure seems like someone is either being overpaid, or underpaid>> you decide!!!

Clark W

I can't tell you why someone didn't see it. Plus, it's not a teaching position, it's an administrative position. Big difference.

As far as interviewing, you can't interview people if they don't apply. It's my understanding there were inquiries, but no other formal applicants.

As far as the pay, that's the going rate for administrators with a high level of education. Compare local figures to statewide figures, and you'll notice this area actually comes in lower.

As far as the president's pay compared to administrator's salary, I can't say anything about that. Of course, the President gets plenty of other perks, Camp David, in-house chef, big expense account, free housing, free on-call jet, etc...:)

David Deerest.

I read where Bill Clinton's phone bill was $400,000.

Those 900 calls must really add up in a jiffy.