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herbert lehman high school
April 14, 2015
Facing state scrutiny, six new ‘out-of-time’ schools must make major changes
Staffers may have to reapply for their jobs and undergo extra training at the schools, which could face sanctions if they don't quickly improve.
March 7, 2013
Lehman HS removed from closure roster, again, but will shrink
A Lehman High School teacher dressed as the school's mascot—a lion—spoke at the school's "turnaround" closure hearing in 2012. For the third time in just over a year, Herbert H. Lehman High School is being pulled off of the chopping block. The Department of Education announced today that it would withdraw proposals to close Lehman and one other school, P.S. 140 in Queens. The two schools were among 24 facing closure votes at Monday's Panel for Educational Policy meeting. Department officials said they had reviewed the public comments made at the schools' closure hearings and determined that they were likely to improve in the future. It's a determination the department has made for a couple of schools each year, usually just days before the PEP is scheduled to vote on their closure plans. Despite the announcement, Lehman will not actually stay open in its current form. The department announced that the school would shrink over time — from more than 2,700 students this year to about 1,000 in the future — and would still have three new schools open in its building next year, for a total of six in the building.
February 27, 2013
Schools facing closure again cover well-worn steps at hearings
Principal Rose Lobianco spoke to community members and city officials during a public hearing on the city's plan to close Herbert H. Lehman High School. (Photo: Mariana Ionova) Whether it was their first public hearing or their fifth, supporters of several schools that the city has proposed closing brought high energy to closure hearings held Tuesday evening. Both Herbert H. Lehman High School and the High School of Graphic Communication Arts were briefly slated to close last year before a labor ruling halted the Department of Education's plans. Now they are on the chopping block again. On Tuesday, Lehman's vocal supporters reprised their support, while at Graphics, the debate shifted to what would move into the space instead. Supporters of a third school whose closure hearing was held on Tuesday, J.H.S. 302 in Brooklyn, brought fresh energy to the hearing, a first for the school. The hearings are a required part of the city’s process to close or open schools, which culminates with a vote by the Panel for Educational Policy. The panel, which has never rejected a city proposal, is set to vote March 11 on closure plans for 24 schools. Herbert H. Lehman High School
July 5, 2012
Confusion reigns at schools affected by arbitrator's hiring rule
The Department of Education has replaced the schools' websites with new ones reflecting new names. Nearly a week after an independent arbitrator ruled that teachers cut loose from 24 "turnaround" schools could have their jobs back, confusion reigns at the schools. The city's turnaround plans involved closing the schools and immediately reopening them with new names, new leaders, and many new teachers. But an arbitrator rolled back those plans last Friday when he ruled that the schools could not replace teachers using its chosen strategy. Shortly after the arbitrator's decision, teachers at the schools received a celebratory email from the United Federation of Teachers, which had sued the city over the hiring procedures in place at the schools. Earlier this week, the city filed suit to get the arbitrator's decision overturned, and a judge is likely to consider the case early next week. For now, the Department of Education has suspended the hiring committees that had been meeting to consider teacher candidates, according to teachers union officials. But during the disjointed first week of summer vacation, it has given teachers and principals no guidance about how they can reclaim their positions, according to officials of the unions that represent both sets of educators. And at least one interim principal who seems likely to be bumped by the arbitrator's decision is reporting for work as usual.
April 3, 2012
At two schools not saved from turnaround, the hearings go on
Grover Cleveland High School students march around the Ridgewood, Queens school's perimeter before the closure hearing. When public hearings about the city's plans to "turn around" two large high schools began last night, few of their supporters had heard that other schools had been spared the aggressive reform process. Herbert H. Lehman High School and Grover Cleveland High School were not among seven top-rated schools that the city announced yesterday would not undergo turnaround after all. The controversial process requires schools to close and reopen with new names and many new teachers. A third school slated for a public hearing Monday night, Brooklyn's School for Global Studies, had its turnaround plans withdrawn. But at Lehman and Cleveland, the hearings went on without interruption — with students, teachers, and graduates at each offering more than three hours of testimony about their schools. Cleveland Diana Rodriguez, the senior class president at Cleveland, saw the surprising news about changes to the turnaround list on her phone during a pre-hearing rally organized by students. “Obviously Cleveland is not on the list. This is very disappointing for us but we will not give up,” she said. “Tonight we will show that we have a voice and will not give in.” That voice grew strained over the course of the afternoon and evening from loud chants and cheers. Before the closure hearing, Rodriguez led a band of students — including one dressed in a tiger costume — on a march around the neighborhood. As they passed the Q54 bus on Metropolitan Avenue, the driver honked repeatedly at the procession and other cars joined the chorus. More students joined when the group returned to the school's entrance on Himrod Street, until the rally swelled to nearly 50.
April 2, 2012
A Lehman teacher reflects at start of week's turnaround hearings
Hearings This Week Monday School for Global Studies, Brooklyn Grover Cleveland HS, Queens Herbert H. Lehman HS, Bronx Tuesday HS of Graphic Communication Arts, Manhattan William Cullen Bryant HS, Queens Wednesday J.H.S. 166 George Gershwin, Brooklyn Thursday I.S. 339, Bronx Richmond Hill HS, Queens Among the many people set to attend a hearing tonight about the city's plan to "turn around" Herbert H. Lehman HIgh School is a teacher who has spent time on both sides of the documentary eye. James McSherry, who has taught writing and film at Lehman for the last 20 years, was the subject of not one but two recent student reporting projects at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. In one story (above), by Nabil Rahman, McSherry empathizes with his students and shares pieces of his life story, saying, "I know what it's like to be hungry, to be lost, to be forgotten by a system that really doesn't care." A second story by Alex Robinson (below) focuses on the turnaround plans and McSherry's response to them. McSherry won't be alone in opposing the turnaround plan tonight. Anne Looser, the school's UFT chapter leader, sent a press release last week drawing attention to the hearing and calling on the Department of Education to keep Lehman open with the same teachers. And students, too, are organizing to oppose the turnaround plan, which would require the school to be closed and reopened with a new name and many new teachers. Lehman's hearing is among eight taking place this week. They are listed at the right.
March 22, 2012
PEP okays slate of co-locations but tables some contract votes
Teachers and students from Lehman High School were among those protesting the slate of city co-location plans at Wednesday's Panel for Educational Policy meeting. More than 60 parents, teachers and students trekked to Chelsea last night to beg Panel for Educational Policy members to reject a slate of space-sharing proposals. As usual, the panel approved all of the proposals — but when it came time to vote on a series of contracts later in the evening, three were tabled unexpectedly after several members said they could not cast impartial votes. Three panel members who were appointed by Mayor Bloomberg said their ties to the City University of New York were too close to allow them to vote on contracts relating to CUNY. After they recused themselves, an unusual occurrence, four panel members who comprise a consistent opposition block also said they would not cast votes on the contract, making it impossible for the contracts to get enough votes to pass. The panel did approve a $20 million, three-year contract for six nonprofit groups that have been working since last summer in 14 schools that were supposed to get money from the federal government through the School Improvement Grant program. That money did not materialize after the city and teachers union were unable to agree on new teacher evaluations. Now the city plans to ask the state to restore the funds when it submits applications for "turnaround" at the schools — but the restoration wouldn't happen until next year. The panel members okayed a $6.5 million payment for the partnerships for this year. The contracts will be canceled next year if the state does not restore the federal funds at the schools, according to a Department of Education spokesman. The turnaround plans are not on the agenda until next month's panel meeting, but they came up again and again on Wednesday evening. Several of the proposed co-locations were set for schools that could be closed and reopened under the turnaround program, drawing criticism from parents and students who attended the meeting.
February 1, 2012
Students from three boroughs protest planned school closures
Student protesters unfurled a banner listing names of the schools that could close this year. Students from at least five city high schools walked out of classes this afternoon in opposition to the city's school closure proposals.
January 25, 2012
As some schools protest turnaround plans, others wait and see
Two weeks after receiving the surprise news that their schools could close this June, some teachers are staging protests while others say they are too stunned to respond, for now. At Herbert H. Lehman High School in the Bronx, Ann Looser is hoping fifty to 100 of her fellow teachers will stay after school tonight to protest city plans to “turn around” Herbert H. Lehman High School. As Lehman’s union chapter leader, Looser has led efforts to raise awareness about the city’s plan to “turn around” the school. Under the plan, which the city devised to keep federal funding despite a breakdown in negotiations over teacher evaluations, 33 low-performing schools would be closed and reopened after having half of their teachers replaced. At Lehman, Looser and her colleagues have been trying recruit families, local politicians, and journalists to attend tonight’s “early engagement” hearing. The goal, she said, is to convince the city not to upend progress that the school had been making with the help of federal funds. Under “restart,” Lehman had used the funds to offer credit recovery programs, peer mentoring, and extra training for teachers, Looser said. She said the extra help came at an important juncture, just as a new principal arrived after years of turmoil that included a grade-changing scandal. Purging the school’s teachers would set those efforts back, Looser said.
November 2, 2011
City adds high schools, charter schools to possible closure list
Three schools that are getting millions of dollars in federal aid are among 27 schools newly added to the list of schools that could be closed. Department of Education officials announced today that they had added 17 high schools, six charter schools, and the middle school grades of four secondary schools to the list of schools they are considering closing. The schools join 20 elementary and middle schools where the city began "early engagement" meetings in September about . The high school additions include three schools receiving federal "transformation" funding; troubled Lehman High School, which handed out the most suspensions in the city by far; and most schools that got F's on this year's progress reports. Seven of the schools are in the Bronx, where large high schools say they are straining to serve high numbers of needy students; five in Manhattan; three in Brooklyn; and two in Queens. Department officials compiled the shortlist by looking at schools’ progress report grades, their Quality Reviews, the results of state evaluations, and the efforts they’ve already undertaken to improve. But in holding early engagement meetings, the department hopes to learn why the schools are struggling and whether other efforts could help them, according to Marc Sternberg, the DOE deputy chancellor in charge of school closures. Echoing an argument that advocacy groups are pushing at schools on the potential closure list, teachers union president Michael Mulgrew said he thought the department was not entering the engagement meetings in good faith.
March 9, 2011
Baseball player's tale highlights challenge of switching schools
Buried in a New York Times article about the suspension of George Washington High School's famed baseball coach is a reminder of the steep challenge students face when trying to switch high schools. Fernelys Sanchez was admitted to Lehman High School in the Bronx but wanted to play baseball for George Washington's winning team, the Times reports. So he moved into his father's apartment in Washington Heights. Then he tried — for more than a year before he succeeded — to win a transfer. But a policy shift over the last several years means that the city's system of school choice largely closes off once students are in high school. “For whatever reason, it has become increasingly difficult, almost impossible, to get a transfer to another regular high school,” Pamela Wheaton of Insideschools told me two years ago. City officials say it's not educationally sound for students to change high schools unless they absolutely have to. The city gives three reasons students can transfer from one high school to another: a long commute, a safety risk, or a health issue. Sanchez's family said he tried all of them:
December 7, 2010
City rescinds four schools' closure plans after improvement
Four schools that the city tried to close last year will stay open after officials decided that they had shown enough improvement to earn a reprieve. The schools — three of them high schools and one a middle school — were among 19 schools the city tried and failed to close last year after the teachers union sued to stop the closures. Given another year, but significantly fewer students and funding, most of those 19 schools were recommended for closure again this year. None of them are being considered for the other two school improvement strategies suggested by the federal government that the city will use in other struggling schools. The four schools that faced closure last year, but will remain open, are the Choir Academy of Harlem's high school grades, Maxwell Career and Technical High School, the Middle School for Academic and Social Excellence, and Business, Computer Applications, and Entrepreneurship High School. City officials cited the schools' improvement on their progress reports, which are given to schools annually and assign them grades from A through F.
November 17, 2010
City tells parents not to worry about cheating investigation
City officials brushed off parents' concerns over an ongoing cheating investigation at a Bronx high school last night, telling them that if the principal had really been changing grades, the school wouldn't be failing. In 2009, teachers at Herbert Lehman High School reported that executive principal Janet Saraceno was changing dozens of students' grades in order to boost the school's graduation rate. More than a year later, Saraceno remains under investigation and Lehman is teetering on the edge of being shut down by the city after receiving an F on its progress report. Yet when parents asked Department of Education officials about the investigation at a meeting last night, they were told to ignore it. "Let's let the investigators do their work," said Juan Ruiz, a DOE official heading the team assigned to support Lehman. He told parents that if Saraceno had really been changing students' grades from failing to passing, "we probably wouldn't have an F." In fact, Saraceno is only under investigation for changing grades during the 2008-09 school year and Lehman's progress report grade for that year was a B. A year later, after DOE officials became aware of the cheating and began to monitor the school more closely, its grade fell to an F.
November 3, 2010
For some schools, report cards bring about a quick turn in luck
Chancellor Joel Klein said the city would consider schools' new grades before deciding which ones to close. For a few high schools, the grades they got on this year's progress reports could make the difference between life and death. Though most schools' grades didn't change dramatically from last year, several schools the city tried to close last year saw improvement this year while others that had once been good schools have fallen to the bottom. Of the 19 schools the city unsuccessfully tried to close for poor performance last year, two schools had their grades jump multiple rungs. W.H. Maxwell Career and Technical Education High School and the Choir Academy of Harlem, both of which got D's last year, and got B's this time. Chancellor Joel Klein said the Department of Education would take the new, higher grades into consideration when deciding whether to try and close the schools it had once deemed "failures" a second time. "We put great weight on the grades," he said at a press conference this morning at Manhattan Bridges High School. "We announced those schools based on the information we had at the time."
September 16, 2010
Lehman HS students wait for classes amid scheduling chaos
As Lehman students walked to school this morning, many noted that they'd likely spend the day waiting for class schedules. Scheduling snafus are an annual rite at city schools during the first week back. But those problems have been magnified at Herbert Lehman High School, where computer glitches and failed planning have left students sitting in the auditorium rather than in class. Teachers and students said that since school began last Wednesday, hundreds of students haven't known where to go or what classes to attend. Instead, many of the school's 4,000 students have been told to sit in the auditorium while guidance counselors sort out the problem. Many have simply gone home. Most schools work on students' schedules over the summer and make adjustments the first week back when a glut of new students arrive on their doorsteps. But teachers said Lehman administrators hadn't done this. "The principal is blaming some computers going down, but in your average decent school this is addressed over the summer. The students deserve an education from day one," said a Lehman teacher. "It's never been this bad." On her way into the building this morning, Stephanie Caceres, 16, said she expected another day of waiting to get a class schedule. "I haven't been to class since the first day," she said.
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