SHELTON — Interim Superintendent Beth Smith says she will retire at the end of the school year

Smith’s decision brings an end to her 35 years in education as the Board of Education is set to begin interviewing candidates to be the permanent superintendent.

“The time is right,” said Smith, who served the Shelton school district as a teacher, coach, advisor, department chairwoman, high school principal and special education director before being named interim superintendent in February.

“I look forward to spending more time with my family and retired friends,” Smith added.

Smith informed the Board of Education, central office and district staff Tuesday of her decision.

“As you know, the Board of Education has already started the process of selecting the next superintendent of schools,” Smith stated in an email to district staff. “That process continues with interviews starting next week and the successful candidate should be named within the next month or so. I will assist with the transition in whatever capacity is necessary.”

Smith became the interim superintendent earlier this year, taking over for the departing Chris Clouet.

Within days of her arrival, Smith was faced with mitigating a $3.1 million budget deficit and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the closure of schools in mid-March and creation of a distance learning model to maintain student instruction.

Board of Education Chairwoman Kathy Yolish praised Smith for her “crisis management skills,” saying she was tossed into a difficult situation immediately yet proved to be a strong leader for the district.

“I thanked her and wished her the best,” Yolish said Tuesday about her contact with Smith.

Former Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden said Smith has “amazing passion for her work” and wished her well in retirement.

“I was most impressed with her exemplary dedication to our special needs students,” Holden said.

Holden recalled during one of his first visits to Shelton High, when Smith made time to introduce him to the students who were running “the tea cart.”

“A simple program that gave special needs students work skills, social interaction with others, and something they could be proud of themselves for,” Holden added. “She's been a strong supporter of our award-winning Unified Sports Program.”

Smith had been Shelton High principal for some 10 years. She made the news at the center of controversy over an alleged sex assault of a student last school year while she was the high school principal.

Smith, whose handling of the investigation into the allegations was investigated, was placed on administrative leave but ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing by the state’s attorney’s office. She then reached an agreement with the Board of Education to become the director of special education.

Once the new superintendent is named, Smith said she would, by contract, move back to supervisor of special education and pupil services.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com