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Ways to say goodbye

Three Buffalo principals last week found themselves in the unwanted situation of having to say goodbye to a job they didn't want to leave.

Federal guidelines for school turnaround grants require that districts remove any principal who has been in place three years or more at any persistently lowest-achieving school. In Buffalo, that affected Michael Mogavero, who'd been at Riverside Institute of Technology for about six years; Florence Krieter, who'd been principal at Burgard Vocational High School about four years; and Colleen Carota, who'd been at International School 45 for more than a decade.

Earlier this month, Buffalo filed revised grant applications with the state Education Department saying Carota would be replaced by an assistant principal -- and that Krieter and Mogavero already had been replaced.

Last week marked the final days for each of the three principals in their respective schools. Each handled their farewell a bit differently.

Mogavero, apparently, told his staff and students at Riverside that he'd be gone as of Monday -- leading one teacher and one student to make impassioned pleas to the Board of Education last week to keep him in place. The student, senior Anthony Vega, said Mogavero was "a buddy" to the students, and would be sorely missed.

At International School 45, Carota skipped the personal goodbyes. In a memo circulated to staff on Thursday, she minced no words:

"Parting is such sweet sorrow. Ms. Nashir is now the acting principal. Please support her. Goodbye ... " And then went on to issue reminders about the school bookfair and other such housekeeping matters.

At Burgard, teachers said, Krieter opted for neither the personal conversations nor the staff memo. She did not tell anyone where she was going, or when, they said -- leaving students and staff alike to wonder who would be in charge this week.

As we report in the paper today, the state approved Buffalo's plans to turn around International School 45 -- but rejected the plans for Riverside and Burgard.

Exactly what that means for Mogavero and Krieter remains to be seen. Acting principals have been named at the two schools. But the superintendent won't say where Mogavero or Krieter have been reassigned to.

There's now talk that they could return to the principal spots they left just days ago. The district didn't get the funding that came with strings attached that required those principals be moved, so it's possible the superintendent could decide to hold off on the moves until next school year, according to Ralph Hernandez, president of the Board of Education.

One thing does seem certain: Carota is the new principal at BUILD Academy, a pre-k through grade eight school that the state took off its list of schools in need of improvement last year.

The state approved Buffalo's turnaround plan for International School 45, where Carota had been assigned for many years, so the district must stick with reassigning her in order to get the $2 million Albany's offering for School 45.

 - Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |