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Candidate from Maryland withdraws from Buffalo school superintendent search

Sito Narcisse, the most recent contender for the position of superintendent, has pulled his name from consideration after meeting with Buffalo School Board members.

He is the latest in a string of outside candidates for superintendent who initially submitted applications but later decided they weren’t interested.

Narcisse has been associate superintendent of the 125,000-student Prince George’s County (Md). school system on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., since October 2013. Several other outside candidates who initially applied for the superintendent position have also pulled out, including Kenneth Slentz, the state’s former deputy education commissioner who withdrew his name from consideration last month.

The pressure on the board to select a well-qualified permanent superintendent is mounting in the face of 25 city schools that are in danger of falling under the control of an independent outside receiver that would take them over within one or two years if the target schools do not show “demonstrable improvement.”

Prior to schools being handed over to the control of an outsider, the district superintendent would serve as their immediate receiver.

This means that the superintendent is responsible for developing acceptable turnaround plans for 25 city schools – nearly half of all the schools in the district – and serving as the direct overseer of the schools, with the broader authority to remove school administrators and teachers, restructure the school day, mandate teacher training and renegotiate union contracts on a school-by-school basis.

The state Education Department expects these turnaround plans to be completed by the start of the school year. Once the turnaround plans are approved, according to the state, whoever is superintendent for the district takes immediate ownership of the schools. As the immediate receiver for the district’s 25 “struggling” or “persistently struggling schools,” the superintendent would be able to supersede all local district leadership, including the School Board.

As it stands, immediate receivership responsibility falls to interim Superintendent Darren J. Brown. Although most of the board majority had expected Brown to remain in his position for only a brief period, the board has so far been unable to gain a majority vote around any of the remaining candidates whom it has interviewed so far.

Those candidates include Orchard Park resident Daniel A. Teplesky, who retired last year as superintendent of the 3,000-student Monticello Central Schools; and internal candidates Kevin J. Eberle, principal of Harvey Austin School 97; Will Keresztes, associate superintendent for student support services; and Gregory D. Mott, principal of Grabiarz School of Excellence.

For the full list of struggling schools facing receivership, visit the School Zone blog at email: