The Nassau BOCES educational community is mourning the loss of its leader after superintendent Robert Dillon died Friday following complications from spinal surgery. He was 72.
Dillon — who lived in both Walden in Orange County, as well as Plainview here on Long Island — has led the Board of Cooperative Educational Services since 2015. He took the job with a focus on Common Core State Standards, which had raised considerable controversy at the time leading up to his appointment.
"Regionally, we have to look at the high-stakes testing," Dillon said at the time., "and certainly try to calm it and bring some common sense to the Common Core."
Before that, Dillon was superintendent of the Eastport-South Manor Central School District in Suffolk County between 1992 and 1999 who led efforts to merge both Eastport and South Manor, and then moved on to serve as superintendent for the East Meadow school district until 2007.
Dillon switched gears after that, leading a program known as REFIT, which advocated for adequate funding for public schools across the state. He also served on the Mid-Hudson School Study Council, which provided more specific advocacy for upstate schools.
Dillon grew up with his five siblings — Matthew, Terrance, Dennis, Kevin and Maureen — in Bayside, Queens. He was drafted straight out of Loyola High School in Manhattan's Upper East Side to play for the Detroit Tigers. Instead, Dillon opted to pursue a career in education, eventually earning his doctorate from St. John's University in Queens.
His 45-year career that followed included not only BOCES, East Meadow and Eastport, but also the Sugar Loaf school district in Orange County, and the Abbott Union Free School District in Westchester County's Irvington.
Dillon also taught at his alma mater, St. John's, as well as SUNY-New Paltz, St. John Fisher University in Rochester, and Dowling College in Oakdale.
BOCES is a cooperative of Nassau County's 56 school districts, where officials say he left a legacy that will impact students there for decades.
"Whether navigating through the Covid-19 pandemic, pushing for increased mental health student support, or innovating numerous programs, he has revitalized, transformed and enhanced educational opportunities for all students," according to an obituary released by BOCES.
Dillon is survived by his wife Patricia Maureen, son Christopher, daughters Deirdre and Caitlin, and grandchildren Kylie and Brendan.
Visitaetion is set for Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 3 to 8 p.m., at Fairchild Sons Funeral Home, 1201 Franklin Ave., Garden City. A funeral Mass will be celebrated Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 10:45 a.m., at The Cathedral of St. Agnes, 29 Quealy Place, in Rockville Centre.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations instead be made to the Nassau BOCES Educational Foundation.