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Exodus of principals at turnaround schools continues in Bronx

Turnover is continuing in the principals’ offices of schools facing “turnaround,” the federally prescribed reform process that the city has proposed for 33 struggling schools.

Enrique Lizardi, the founding principal of the Bronx High School of Business, has resigned, according to a Department of Education spokeswoman. The spokeswoman, Barbara Morgan, said Lizardi took another job within the department and would be replaced in the short term by an assistant principal. Teachers at the school were told that a new administrator would arrive next week.

Turnaround requires principals who have been in place for more than a few years to be replaced, and the city has started informing principals at some of the schools that they would be removed at the end of the year. But at least some are leaving mid-semester, just as the city is fleshing out details of the turnaround plans, which require half of teachers at the schools to be replaced this summer.

Lizardi is at least the second principal to move on in recent days. Barry Fried, the longtime principal of Brooklyn’s John Dewey High School, was removed abruptly on Friday and replaced by the founding principal of a successful small school who had trained teachers helping to overhaul some of the 33 schools.

The Bronx High School of Business opened in 2002 in the Taft Educational Campus, where Lizardi had been a guidance counselor for more than a decade before the city began phasing Taft High School out. A decade into its existence, the school’s four-year graduation rate is just over 50 percent and it received a C on its most recent city progress report. More than 20 percent of its students require special education services and more than 20 percent are classified as English language learners.

Last year, the city assigned the school to undergo “restart,” a process that pairs struggling schools with nonprofit partners. That process brought the school extra federal funds that, according to Insideschools, Lizardi used to hire expert teachers in English and special education.

A teacher who asked to remain anonymous said the school had improved this year but that teachers have been worn out by “this year of indecision” as restart gave way to turnaround.

“We are very sad for our kids,” said the teacher. “They need consistency and this year, and likely next, will be very stressful on them.”