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To follow federal rules, city swaps one principal for another

To comply with federal rules meant to turn struggling schools around, the city is playing a game of musical chairs — or, rather, musical principals.

Under the rules, the 11 struggling schools the city wants to “transform” can’t get federal dollars unless the city replaces their current principals with a new leader. But in one case, school officials have removed the principal from one struggling school — and made her the new leader at another.

Geraldine Maione will move from being principal at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn, one of the 11 transformation schools, to being principal at William Grady, another of the 11.

The shuffling of principals highlights the compromise approach that the city is taking with the 11 schools it selected for “transformation.” The transformation model is the least severe of the four federal school turnaround strategies because it does not require officials to remove any teachers. It does, however, require that the principal be replaced.

But officials have wanted to keep some of the 11 principals, citing improvements their schools have made on their watch. The resulting maneuvering means that only three of the 11 principals have actually lost their positions entirely. Of the remaining eight, three were allowed to keep their positions and four will stay on at their schools in the newly created “transformation mentor principal” role.

The swapping of Grady’s principal for FDR’s represents a slightly different tactic to meet city officials’ goal of keeping principals they believe to be effective while still receiving federal funds.

“We made a determination that she’d done some good work at FDR, and while we wanted to make sure that FDR got the federal dollars, we thought that she could continue her good work at Grady,” said Department of Education spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.