Danny Webb has stood at the helm of John de la Howe since June 2014, when the previous president, Thomas Mayer, was ousted by the agency's board of trustees and Webb, who had been with the school for six years at the time, was promoted from director of student and family services.

Since then, the agency has battled threats of closure from the Legislature and worked under a newly created advisory board that's part of an effort to drastically change or eliminate de la Howe.

Late Thursday night, Webb announced he will retire from the position.

The announcement comes just days after the House approved a budget that would terminate all employees at the agency, get rid of the board of trustees and shutter the school for a year while handing it over to Clemson University to study how best to use the agency's resources.

Shortly after the budget amendment was announced by the House Ways and Means Committee, de la Howe board members released their plans to turn the agency into a governor's or commissioner's school of agriculture, biotechnology and research.

In a released statement, Webb said he first joined the school in 2008 as an admissions coordinator and would retire effective June 30 of this year.

"I prayed long and hard before coming to this decision," Webb said in the statement. "But the time has come for me to devote more time to my ministry – and to my family. I haven’t been able to spend as much time with them as I’d like over the past several years."

Webb is also the pastor of Old Mount Zion Baptist Church in Ninety Six.

Dan Shonka, chairman of de la Howe's board, said the board will likely call a special meeting before its regularly scheduled one in June to discuss the House's budget as well as Webb's retirement.

"He has put his heart and soul into John de la Howe from the first day he stepped on campus, and he has continued to go the extra mile, above and beyond anybody's expectations as far as long hours and trying to make this thing work," Shonka said. "The bottom line is he's done his time very well and he's done a great job for those kids, and he's treated the staff with a lot of respect, and in my opinion, he's done a great job and lifted us up out of a tough situation."

Shonka said the board wishes him the best.

"His background is the Highway Patrol, and he retired from the Highway Patrol. So this has almost been like a second career for him, and he's done a marvelous job of it," Shonka said.

Although Shonka said the board will need to discuss Webb's replacement, he said there are more pressing matters at hand.

"There's a lot of pressing needs as we continue to move through this process with the legislature. We're going to continue to work because we believe in the place and because we believe in the plan that we've put together, we're going to continue to work hard and look forward," Shonka said. "We can't change what the House is doing at this point, so we'll continue to try to convince the Senate that the plan is good and that it's a long-term solution for John de la Howe."

Contact staff writer Ariel Gilreath at 864-943-5644 or follow on Twitter@IJARIELGILREATH.