In a stunning development that caught even some officials involved off guard, the Dallastown Area School Board Thursday asked for and then accepted the resignation of Superintendent Stewart Weinberg.

Weinberg, who had a year and about four months remaining on his contract, announced after a two-hour executive session he had "complied" with the board's request for his resignation.

Upon that announcement, Weinberg promptly left the board room in Dallastown Area High School, and with that, his nearly eight-year tenure as superintendent of one of the biggest and most prominent school districts in York County was over.

No lengthy explanation was offered on either side about the decision.

"He's going his way. We're going our way," said board president Kenneth "Butch" Potter.

Potter declined to say why the board asked for the resignation or how long it had been planned, but added the community would get an explanation of some of the details eventually.

Potter was part of a new wave of school board members in the past two years, during which every seated board member from before 2010 has been replaced.

That may explain in part why the board decided to ask for the resignation of a man whom they gave a contract extension to in December 2010, back when former member Fred Botterbusch was board president.

Botterbusch said at the time that those in favor of extending Weinberg and assistant superintendent Ronald Dyer - who now serves as acting superintendent - wanted continuity. The extension was approved, 5-4, just before several board members left office.

Surprise decision: Weinberg had drawn the regular ire of some taxpayers for his pursuit of projects such as the $58 million intermediate school construction two years ago. He also had been criticized in past years by some parents for what they believed was a strong-headed leadership approach, which led to the board in 2008 and again in 2010 including an "Annual Community Goodwill Incentive" in his contract that tied a portion of his salary to improving his leadership style and communication skills.

But the board overall had not given any recent indication of any displeasure with his performance, and Weinberg had been able to reach those behavior-based incentives in his contract. He also was awarded the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators' Instructional Leadership Award last fall, and regularly attended school events around the district.

Even at Thursday's meeting, Weinberg was seated at the center of the table as usual and was fielding questions about the present and future state of Dallastown schools.

Potter announced near the end of what had been an otherwise innocuous meeting that an executive session would be held, but did not indicate the reason.

Two hours later, with building principals, a few other staff members and some community members still lingering, the board emerged to make the announcement. The reaction in the room was a mixture of confusion and somberness over the gravity of the situation.

Solicitor Jeffrey Rehymeyer indicated that Weinberg's contract does include financial provisions in the event he is asked to resign, and that those details would be discussed at a future board meeting. Potter said a search for a new superintendent would begin immediately.

Dyer said he had no advance notice that Weinberg would be leaving and that he would be asked to step in, saying he was unaware even as he went into the executive session; Potter could be heard telling principals after the meeting he was sorry he caught them off guard.

Dyer said he was still taking in the emotion of it all, and that he asks for Dallastown residents to be patient with the district during the transition.

'I love what I've done': Weinberg was the superintendent of Ladue School District in St. Louis, Mo., when he was hired by Dallastown in 2004 to take over for William Thompson. Originally from Queens, N.Y., Weinberg also oversaw the 16,000-student North Star Borough School District in Fairbanks, Alaska.

"I love what I've done because of the people I've worked with and the children who attend our schools," Weinberg said of his time in Dallastown.

Weinberg said he's proud of the work he led during his tenure, such as the intermediate school construction and expansion of full day kindergarten, and that he hopes it laid a road map for future student success.

"Let everyone judge whether or not education in Dallastown is better" now compared to when he began serving as superintendent, Weinberg said.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431 or ashaw@yorkdispatch.com, or on Twitter @ydblogwork.com.