Lehman to be “restarted”

If only it was as simple as restarting your computer.

Lehman High School has been selected to be a part of the Federal “restart” program for schools that are persistently low achieving.

The program will bring federal dollars and a matching non-profit partner organization that will work closely with the principal in the next academic year to strengthen the curriculum, develop academic supports for students, and help teachers improve their instruction.

The plan will allow Lehman, as well as three other Bronx high schools, to remain open, most likely with the same principal and staff.

The “restart” of the school caps a short-term slide over the past two to three years that has seen Lehman High School absorb students from other schools that have been broken up into smaller institutions, said Councilman Jimmy Vacca, a strong supporter of Lehman High School.

“I have known for some time that the Department of Education was looking at Lehman for restructuring possibilities,” Vacca said. “The past two to three years have been difficult for Lehman High School, and the DOE has made this year in especially trying by assigning Lehman 4,200 students, many of whom are at-risk, without proper supports. We should have only 3,000 students at Lehman.”

Many of the students who have been forced out of larger comprehensive high schools that have closed, such as Evander Childs, Monroe, and Stevenson, still choose to attend a large comprehensive high school, and there are fewer options, Vacca said.

The school was a success story a few years ago and served its students well in the 1990s and early 2000s, Vacca stated.

“If you would have come to me three or four years ago and said Lehman High School had to be turned around, I would have said that the school is doing fine and didn’t need help,” Vacca said. “This school was once a success story,” Vacca said.

Principal Janet Saraceno has done her best to absorb the students that she was sent. She was told by the Department of Education to install metal detectors, which created a confidence crisis in the school, Vacca stated.

“By implementing the federal Restart Model, we’re giving 22 of our schools millions of dollars in federal grants and a committed partner organization with a strong track record to help turn them around,” said DOE spokesman Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld.

Other high schools joining Lehman in the restart model are Banana Kelly High School, Bronx High School of Business and Grace Dodge.

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