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Patchogue-Medford schools chief resigns to head Port Washington schools

Michael J. Hynes, who advocates a "whole child" approach to education, is leaving to become leader of the Port Washington district. A vocal critic of state policy on standardized testing, he has helped lead the record-setting opt-out movement on Long Island.

Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael J. Hynes is leaving the

Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael J. Hynes is leaving the district in July.  Photo Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

Patchogue-Medford schools Superintendent Michael J. Hynes, a well-known advocate for whole-child education and an outspoken critic of state standardized tests, is leaving his post to become schools chief in Port Washington, officials said Thursday.

Hynes will become superintendent of the Port Washington district on Nassau County's North Shore on July 15, district officials confirmed in a letter to parents Thursday.  Superintendent Kathleen Mooney is retiring. The switch is one of two announced this week: the other being the resignation of Christine Finn from the Shelter Island school district to head the Carle Place system.

"We believe Dr. Hynes is a perfect fit for our district," read Thursday's letter signed by the Port Washington Board of Education. "His committment to an educational philosophy built around educating the whole child and his reputation for community engagement will build and expand upon the wonderful foundation established by Dr. Kathleen Mooney."

Hynes could not be reached for comment. 

Hynes joined the 7,500-student Patchogue-Medford district in 2014 after serving as superintendent of the Shelter Island system. His annual salary was more than $252,324 in 2017-18, according to a Newsday database of administrators' salaries.

A notice on the school district's website said Hynes notified the Board of Education of the move Tuesday and will leave the system in July. His resignation took the board by surprise, board president Anthony C. O'Brien said.

“Our Board of Education was not expecting this news, as we suspect, were many of you,” O’Brien said in a message to district residents that was posted on the website and social media on Thursday. “The Board of Education and Patchogue-Medford School District wish Dr. Hynes great success in the future.”

The district has had a “wonderful relationship” with Hynes, O'Brien said.

Hynes has been an outspoken critic of state testing, and the Patchogue-Medford district often is one of Long Island’s strongholds in the boycott movement.

He also hosted a TED talk at Adelphi University, where he featured his educational philosophy, called PEAS — an acronym for physical growth, emotional growth, academic growth and social growth.

Jeanette Deutermann, lead organizer of the LI Opt Out movement, called the move a "huge win" for Port Washington.

"Dr. Hynes has implemented innovative initiatives and an enduring whole-child culture in Patchogue-Medford, and it is crucial that these initiatives have a chance to flourish and impact other districts across the island as well," she told Newsday on Thursday.

Patchogue-Medford school officials said the commitment to whole-child education will remain.

“Our Board of Education remains committed to the goals and ambitions to which we have aspired," O'Brien's statement said. "Going forward there will be change in the Superintendent’s Office and we will apprise you, our school community, of our plans as they move forward.”

Meanwhile, Finn made her announcement in a letter to parents, saying she is resigning from the small eastern Suffolk County district to become the superintendent in Carle Place. She has served as Shelter Island superintendent and principal since 2017. The small district enrolls about 200 students, according to the state Education Department. A Newsday database of public salaries showed she earned more than $158,086 in 2017-18.

Finn said in her note that it was “not an easy decision for me to part with this wonderful community. But she noted that her new position will allow her greater opportunities to care for her family and “for my son in particular, this will be life-changing.”

Finn will replace superintendent David Flatley, who has announced his retirement. According to the Carle Place school district, which has about 1,300 students, Finn will start July 1 and has worked in the district before, as the assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel from 2010 to 2014.

Carle Place Board of Education president  Joseph LoCurto said in a statement Thursday that  Finn "possesses the qualities valued by both the community and the board. She is an accomplished educator who has proven to be approachable, sincere, decisive and collaborative."

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