Syosset Superintendent Carole Hankin will retire at the end of October, according to the Board of Education.
Dr. Michael Cohen, board president, announced at Tuesday night's meeting that the district's 23-year leader would step down at the end of October.
According to Cohen, Hankin sent a confidential letter Tuesday to the board formally announcing her plan to retire.
"She worked to the best of her ability to make school a welcoming, nurturing, comfortable place for every child, regardless of their abilities," he said. "No one would ever deny that every child has an opportunity for a fabulous education here in every regard."
Her contract was due to expire in 2017.
Trustees admitted the announcement caught them off guard.
"I think after 23 years, she could've had a better exit plan, like saying, 'I'm going to leave in a year and these are the things you should do to start filling the position.'" said Trustee Chris DiFilippo.
"She obviously did a lot of good for the school district. You can't deny that," he added. "But it took a whole year for the board to get involved."
In the last years of her tenure, Hankin had been criticized for her $506,015 salary and benefits. Her yearly income was famously blasted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who cited her income as highest in the state for a public employee. Hankin reportedly lost that title this year to Rockville Centre Superintendent William Johnson.
Regardless of criticism against her, Hankin was praised for her work in both elevating Syosset's national status and in making the district a place where students can continue flourish.
"We want residents to be assured that our district is in a great place," said Vice President April Neuendorf. "We have a united board, very supportive parents, great teaching staff, supportive administrators, and we will continue to be the premiere district that we want to be."
As for Hankin's retirement plans, board members said she will now have the time to follow her passion for public speaking in education.
"She's well known for speaking at various seminars and conventions," said Neuendorf. "Public speaking has been a passion of hers and as a Superintendent, she didn't always have the opportunity to do that."
Some speculated Hankin would soon retire after she reportedly declined to seek a contract extension in March, according to Newsday.
Cohen said that as the board was still in a "whirlwind of emotion" after the announcement, they had not yet begun the process of replacing Hankin in October.
This is a developing story. Patch will update as more information becomes available.