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Caterina Lafergola steps down as principal of Baldwin High School

Caterina Lafergola, seen in 2016, has resigned as

Caterina Lafergola, seen in 2016, has resigned as principal of Baldwin High School. Credit: Uli Seit

The principal of Baldwin High School, who was the subject of controversy when she was first hired, has resigned after serving just two years in the district, a schools spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Caterina Lafergola, hired in June 2016, stepped down this week, turning in her resignation Wednesday, said the spokeswoman, Mary Furcht. Another principal has not yet been named and school officials declined to comment further.

Kathleen Englehart, one of the co-presidents of Baldwin’s Parent Teacher Student Association, said the high school was lucky to have Lafergola as its principal.

“Many parents feel that Ms. Lafergola was a tremendous asset to Baldwin High School. Her style of leadership was very effective. Her no-nonsense attitude and ability to communicate and collaborate with parents and students got positive results,” she said.

Lafergola’s annual salary was listed as $167,416, according to a Newsday database of public school payrolls. School officials declined to discuss any financial details related to her departure.

Some parents had petitioned against her hiring, saying Lafergola, who was a prior principal at the mostly male vocational Automotive High School — one of the lowest-performing schools in New York City — was not a good fit for the district. The petition said she lacked experience and leadership skills to run Baldwin High School.

Friday, Shani Bruno, a parent who launched the petition, said she hopes the district takes better care in selecting the next high school principal.

“It’s unfortunate that the district is in a position again now, two years later after all of the community reservations about the appointment,” Bruno said. “And to me this calls into question the judgment of the superintendent and the Board of Education that empowers her to make such a poor choice in a building leader for our community’s high school.”

At the same time, Lorrie Prager, who has a son who will be a junior in September and a daughter who will be a freshman, said she was disappointed that Lafergola had resigned. She credited Laferfola as the kind of administrator who was out in the school hallways and knew the children by name. She offered new programs at the high school and was a steady force in the building, she added.

“I have personally seen a difference,” Prager said. “I am sad to see her go, very sad. I wish her the best of luck and I am concerned and curious as to whom they may find.”

Baldwin Superintendent Shari L. Camhi was unavailable for comment Friday. Lafergola did not immediately return a call for comment.

Baldwin High School serves more than 1,500 students. Statistics from the New York State Report Card show it had a 92 percent graduation rate for 2017, above the average for high schools on Long Island.

Lafergola had a rocky tenure at Automotive High School, which now enrolls fewer than 350 students and has a 72 percent graduation rate, in Brooklyn. News reports stated she resigned there in 2016 after clashing with the union.

In Baldwin, Lafergola’s hiring was unanimously approved by the Board of Education. The district issued a statement saying Lafergola had “an outstanding vision for education.”

The district hosted a meet-and-greet with her at the time.

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