A divided Wyandanch school board approved the resignation of Superintendent Gina Talbert on Wednesday, less than three months after it had extended her contract for another two years.
Talbert’s last day is July 28, school officials said.
It marks the end of her 24-year tenure at Wyandanch schools, where she previously worked as a middle school principal and an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. She has been the schools chief since 2019, and her gross pay was $239,895.80 in the 2021-22 school year.
Talbert, in a statement emailed Thursday through a spokeswoman, said she took “great pride in all that has been achieved.”
“Since joining the district [in] 1999, it has been my honor and privilege to serve the scholars, their families and the Wyandanch community,” her statement read in part. She declined to comment further.
The resolution was passed with four of the seven board members in support, including board president Jarod Morris. The three other trustees, Latesha Walker, Shirley Baker and Kathy Corbin, walked out of the evening meeting before the vote was cast.
In a statement Thursday, Walker praised Talbert’s dedication and professionalism. “During my exposure to her leadership, I’ve witnessed positive impacts to the district’s mission,” Walker wrote. “Wyandanch took a loss last night. A big one.”
At a heated four-hour-long meeting in March, more than 100 people packed the district board room in support of Talbert as the board voted to extend her contract.
Morris said Talbert informed the board Monday that she received an offer from another school district and asked to negotiate a new contract, not an extension, or that they accept her resignation.
Talbert declined to comment on Morris' description of her request.
“I believe that it was way too early to discuss a new contract or anything like that when it hasn't even been 90 days since this one was voted on,” Morris said Thursday.
Wyandanch is one of only two public school districts of 124 on Long Island that has been assigned a state monitor to help make improvements in budgeting, operations and other areas. Albert Chase, a veteran Long Island school business manager, has been the state’s fiscal monitor for the 2,700-student district since April 2020. A phone message left for him Thursday wasn't immediately returned.
The state Education Department said in a statement that it "remains committed to working with our state monitor to ensure that every student in Wyandanch has access to a high-quality education."
Reactions to Talbert's departure were mixed.
Scott O'Brien-Curcie, president of the Wyandanch Teachers Association and a math teacher who has worked in the district for 24 years, called it “a 100% positive step.”
The union is negotiating a new contract while teachers are working under an old one that expired last July, he said, adding he has not spoken to Talbert for a year.
“Things can only get better,” O'Brien-Curcie said Thursday.
Sharon Baker, daughter of trustee Shirley Baker and an attendance specialist who retired from the Wyandanch district in 2021 after 26 years, said the district has made improvements under Talbert and that she was saddened to see her go.
“She did not want to leave. I know she wanted stability in her contract,” said Baker, one of the few people who attended Wednesday’s meeting. “To see her leave that way was a bit unsettling for me.”
Morris thanked Talbert for her 24 years of service and said students have excelled under her leadership. He said the district will conduct a search for her replacement.
“She will be missed, and I just wish her the best,” Morris said.