CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- Chappaqua Superintendent of Schools Lyn McKay will resign due to retirement, the school board announced Monday morning in an email blast to parents.
The resignation comes amid fallout of the handling of the sex-abuse allegations following the resignation of former drama teacher Christopher Schraufnagel.
Calls for McKay to resign piled up in September; a group of parents held a rally in front of the Greeley campus to demand an ouster. The group included several long-time community members who have been involved in school-related causes.
Sex-abuse allegations against Schraufnagel first became known to the district in June 2015, when he took a leave of absence and a criminal investigation was commenced. Schraufnagel resigned in September 2015 and was criminally charged the following month; the criminal case is still pending while several lawsuits have been filed against him and the school district.
McKay was also in the spotlight because she admitted to signing off on a controversial defense against a lawsuit filed on behalf of three student sex-abuse accusers against Schraufnagel. The defense, which relied on a standard called comparative negligence, blamed the students for civil liability purposes. The filing of the defense, which came in early July, created an uproar in the community, but McKay did not admit to signing off on the defense until she was asked during public comment at a September board meeting.
While the superintendent personally does not blame the students for what happened, she explained that she signed off on the defense due to legal advice from both the district's regular legal counsel and from a special attorney who has been appointed by the district's liability insurer.
Previous coverage on Schraufnagel can be found here.
"We would like to thank Dr. McKay for her many years of service and dedication to our schools," the board stated. "We thank her for her unwavering commitment to the students, our children, to the community, and to family. Dr. McKay's educational leadership has been instrumental in helping the District move to the forefront of 21st century teaching and learning."
The board noted that it will approve an amendment to McKay's employment contract, which expires on June 30, 2018, at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Eric Byrne, the district's assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, will serve as interim superintendent while the board conducts a search for a permanent replacement.
While the board does not specify why McKay is stepping down, the decision comes amid the fallout from Schraufnagel's situation.
McKay first joined Chappaqua's administrative team in 2003 when she became assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and became superintendent in 2011.
McKay's employment contract with Chappaqua ran until June 30, 2018.
In a separate email to parents that followed the board's, McKay acknowledged her resignation. While McKay did not mention an explicit cause for her departure, she acknowledged that the fallout from the Schraufnagel case has rattled the community.
"Among many emotions, we have felt saddened and betrayed. I, too, feel these same emotions, not only as your Superintendent but as a mother," she wrote. "I am confident, however, that by our District and community working together and continuing to keep student safety and well-being a top priority, our Chappaqua school community will heal and come through these challenging times even stronger than before.
Below is a copy of the school board's full statement, with italics added for visual differentiation. A copy of McKay's letter is below the board's. It is separated with a dotted line, and italics have also been added:
Dear Chappaqua School Community,
Today, Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Lyn McKay, announced her resignation for the purpose of retirement. The Board will vote on the amendment to her contract at tomorrow's regular Board of Education meeting. We will also be voting on appointing Dr. Eric Byrne as the Acting Interim Superintendent for a brief period of time until an Interim Superintendent is selected and appointed. The process of selecting the Interim Superintendent is now underway. Going forward, as soon as practical, the Board of Education will begin developing the process for and then implementing a nationwide search for the next Superintendent of Schools.
We would like to thank Dr. McKay for her many years of service and dedication to our schools. We thank her for her unwavering commitment to the students, our children, to the community, and to family. Dr. McKay's educational leadership has been instrumental in helping the District move to the forefront of 21st century teaching and learning.
We also thank Dr. McKay for her forward thinking in active learning, in developing both the physical and emotional learning environment, in professional development and in integrating evolving technology into the curriculum. Finally, we thank Lyn for her dedication, determination, dignity and grace.
The Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education
Alyson Gardner, President
Victoria Tipp, Vice President
Dear Community Members,
As you have just heard from our Board of Education, I am retiring.
It has been an honor to be your Superintendent these past 5 years. We have experienced a lot together, from great moments to extreme challenges. We have shared ideas at community coffees, through our Chappaqua Education for the Future committee, through Highlights, at our Knowledge Cafes, and through our many individual conversations.
Over the past year we have been experiencing the aftermath of the arrest of a former Greeley theater teacher. These times have been difficult for our students, community, staff, and Board of Education. This horrendous situation is one a district and community should never have to go through.
Among many emotions, we have felt saddened and betrayed. I, too, feel these same emotions, not only as your Superintendent but as a mother. I am confident, however, that by our District and community working together and continuing to keep student safety and well-being a top priority, our Chappaqua school community will heal and come through these challenging times even stronger than before.
Our District is strong, not just fiscally and operationally but instructionally. Our curriculum and instructional practices, along with focused, planned, and innovative professional development, are some of the finest in education.
Our teachers are continually learning and pushing our instructional methodologies to the next level through action research and study groups such as our iFellows. Our administrative team comprises strong, knowledgeable, and caring leaders. Our support staff are always here to assist our students. Our clerical and custodial staff consistently make our work easier.
I want to thank our community and our dedicated staff for their commitment to our students and for their dedication to continually improving our teaching and learning environments. The Chappaqua Central School District is known nationally as a leader in educational best practices because of you, and is poised to remain strong in the coming years. It has been a pleasure for me to have been part of this exceptional educational community and to have collaborated with such committed and talented people.
Chappaqua Schools has a lot to do in the next two years, working together to create the curricular and instructional practices that will enhance the use of our new Global Learning Environments, STEAM Labs, and Instructional Centers. I have no doubt the outcomes will be no less than extraordinary for our students.
It has been a joy to see our wonderful students and staff each day, and it has been a privilege to be your Superintendent. I wish you the best.