James Nolan named interim Baldwin High School principal


The Baldwin Board of Education on Monday appointed James Nolan, the former superintendent of the Sachem Central School District, as interim principal of Baldwin High School.

Nolan will lead the high school for the 2018-19 school year to give the district “the time needed to properly search for a permanent replacement,” according to a letter from Dr. Shari Camhi, superintendent of the Baldwin Union Free School District. Before becoming superintendent of Sachem, Nolan served as principal of Sachem High School North and an English teacher.

“He is highly-skilled, has an abundance of energy and is excited to work with our students, parents and faculty,” Camhi said in her letter. “He was described as a ‘beloved principal and superintendent,’ having developed strong relationships with students, families and staff.”

He resigned as superintendent of Sachem, one of Long Island’s largest school districts, in 2016.

Chris Vaccaro, president of the Sachem Alumni Association, called him "one of the most genuine, humble and principle centered individuals I have ever met.

"He is regarded as one of the most sincere leaders in the history of Sachem Schools and that says a lot considering Sachem is known as being one of the biggest school districts in New York State," Vaccaro added. "His interpersonal skills and leadership qualities are second to none and that's evident in the countless alumni from Sachem who credit Jim with being a guiding light in their lives from an educational, social and emotional perspective. You can not get any better than him and Baldwin will undoubtedly understand this very quickly."

Nolan succeeds Caterina Lafergola, who resigned as principal of the high school at the end of June only two years after she was hired. Parents described her as a beloved leader who had the best interests of the school at heart. But many had a different opinion of Lafergola when she was first hired in 2016, and a petition with more than 1,500 signatures blasted the BOE’s choice to hire her.

Those who spoke out against Lafergola, who earned $167,416 as principal of Baldwin High, said she lacked leadership abilities, pointing to her rocky tenure at Automotive High School in Brooklyn as evidence — a 2014-15 New York City Department of Education survey found that 58 percent of students, teachers and parents at the school believed it had effective leadership.

Camhi said parents will have an opportunity to meet Nolan at a future meet-and-greet at a date not yet determined.