Long Beach Schools Superintendent David Weiss announced on Saturday that he will resign next month, after he accepted a position with the International Baccalaureate organization, a multinational educational foundation that supplies advanced academic programs to schools around the world.
Weiss — who was credited for his leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and for opening the schools just two weeks after the storm — wrote a letter to parents and community members that was posted on the district’s website, saying that he had accepted a job as International Baccalaureate’s head of U.S. Public Schools in Bethesda, Md.
After six years as superintendent, Weiss, who currently earns a salary of about $225,000, submitted his letter of resignation to the Board of Education at a special meeting on Monday. His last day will be Sept. 20.
“It’s always bittersweet,” he told the Herald. “I think we did a lot of good work here in Long Beach, that I’m very proud of, to improve the quality of the district and the education that students receive. I’m looking forward to bringing the best possible education in the world to additional public school students from all walks of life through my work with the I.B. organization.”
Weiss emphasized that he would still be on the job for the start of the upcoming school year on Sept. 6. “I am committed to working with the school district through the start of the new academic year,” he said on the website, “to ensure a smooth opening and transition.”
Weiss previously served as assistant superintendent for secondary education and chief information officer for the Commack school district.
In his letter, Weiss noted the rebuilding and swift reopening of schools after Sandy, among other accomplishments, including revising the elementary curriculum; introducing SPIRIT, a program that teaches research and presentation skills to third- through fifth-graders; and establishing the first I.B. “middle years programme” in Nassau County at the middle school.
Athletic Director Arnold Epstein commended Weiss on his direction to reopen schools within two weeks after Sandy brought the city to a standstill. “The time with Sandy was such a horrific event for this community,” Epstein said at the meeting. “While the other accomplishments are great, it’s the leadership at that time that’s unique to any administrator I’ve ever worked with.”
Karen Bloom, executive vice president of the Classroom Teachers Association, shared similar sentiments. “Many of our achievements can be attributed to your leadership style and the vision and goals you had for the district,” she told Weiss.
“We want to thank Mr. Weiss for all his contributions to Long Beach, and we wish him only the best in his new pursuit,” added Sharon Powers, co-president of the high school PTA. “We also think we can speak for all the Long Beach PTAs when we say that we will do everything we can to help make the transition to a new superintendent as smooth as possible.”
Weiss’s tenure was not free of controversy. In March 2016, the district launched a disciplinary hearing, which stretched over 14 months, investigating suspended middle school teacher Lisa Weitzman in the wake of allegations that she abused five of her special-education students. School officials said that the hearing officer, Robert Grey, would review the information gathered at the hearings and submit his decision to the State Education Department, which will notify the school district.
The allegations led the parents of five of Weitzman’s students to file a $25 million lawsuit against the district in Nassau County Supreme Court last year, claiming that district officials failed to act on complaints made by several teaching assistants. Additionally, the parents of one of the students filed a federal lawsuit in April 2016 against the district, Weitzman and two of her assistants, Lauren Schneider and Jean-Marie Lilley.
Another parent, Shirlyn Summers, filed a lawsuit in Nassau County Supreme Court in February, alleging that Weitzman physically, sexually and mentally abused her daughter. Weitzman filed her own lawsuit against the district last year, claiming that she was the subject of a malicious investigation.
As well, the district has been meeting with an independent mediator in the hope of reaching a contract settlement with the Long Beach School Employees Association, after LBSEA members protested what they called a lack of progress because their most recent contract expired in June 2015, LBSEA president Joanne Rea said.
The district recently agreed on a new contract for the Classroom Teachers Association after a two-year impasse, and officials have expressed confidence that an agreement with the LBSEA is on the horizon.
“[Weiss’s] veteran leadership has been evident in the success realized by our students...,” school board President Stewart Mininsky said in a statement on the district website. “His commitment to students and families within this community is to be commended, and he has set the bar high for our district’s next leader. … We will continue to keep the community updated as [the plan to recruit a new superintendent] is developed and look forward to input from all district stakeholders.”
Schools officials said that an interim superintendent is likely to take Weiss’s place while officials interview potential candidates and choose someone new for the position.
“I always believed that public schools and the people that work in them can and should make a difference in the lives of children and the lives of the community,” Weiss said. “I plan on continuing my commitment to public school education as I move forward.”