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DOE seeks Lehman community input

Bronx Times

Lehman High School is not going down without a fight.

Parents and educators met at the Westchester Square school this week to hear the voice of the school community after the city Department of Education put it on the endangered list.

Department of Education representative Elaine Gorman, who moderated the meeting, told the audience she wanted to hear “what the numbers” don’t show about the school.

The school faces a possible shake up - or maybe even closure - after the latest 2011-12 progress report gave it another low grade – a D – on the its annual report card.

The school received a B in College and Career Readiness, but Fs in Student Progress (earning class credits and passing Regents Exams), student performance (graduation rates and types of diplomas earned), and school environment.

School principal Rose LoBianco argued at the meeting that the school is improving, citing that in the 2009-10 and 2010-11 progress report that had the school getting an F.

“After two years as a F status, Lehman is no longer an F school,” said LoBianco. “We have now moved to a D school. It is not where we want to be, but we have moved off the F status, and that shows data moving [in a positive direction].”

She said DOE’s intervention has reduced enrollment to 2,950 students. The official number on the school progress report was at 3593, a measure from the last school year.

The principal said it has also created six new “academies” within the larger school.

“The academy structure has designated staff around 550 students - that’s it,” said LoBianco.

The exception, she added, is a senior class academy that may have more students.

The smaller academies, she noted, are partly autonomous.

She also touted the creation of a new “screened” academy at the school, the Anne Hutchinson Academy.

“What we are trying to accomplish is almost like what the DOE is trying to accomplish with smaller schools, only under one roof,” she said.

Teachers, students, and parents at the meeting pointed out many positive programs at one of the few remaining large, comprehensive high schools in the borough.

That included the student-run Lehman TV and classes offering college credit subjects such as criminal justice, as well as improvements in safety with the installation of metal detectors.

English teacher Al Bruno said parents at Lehman need to be involved in their children’s education, noting that “if it doesn’t start at home, it will never start here.”

Several teachers and parents said the years of talk about the school failing and possible “turnarounds” or closures have hurt the morale of both students and staff.

Parent Association president Elvin Flores said he didn’t think there was yet a sense of urgency among parents.

He stressed that change at Lehman will take time.

“They want overnight change, and that is just not going to happen.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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