John Jay Educational Complex
John Jay Educational Campus houses three small high schools, a secondary school with grades 6-12, and a program for students who have been suspended from other schools. In the middle of affluent Park Slope, the building has long had a bad reputation and has been avoided by students in its immediate neighborhood while drawing on students from other parts of Brooklyn.
However, a selective school in the building, Millennium Brooklyn High School, opened in 2011 and is off to a promising start. With strong leadership and a well-thought out curriculum patterned after a school of the same name in Manhattan, Millennium is beginning to attract successful students, including some from Park Slope.
Secondary School for Law, the largest school in the building, has above average attendance, an above average graduation rate and some imaginative teaching. Secondary School for Journalism and Park Slope Collegiate, on the other hand, have struggled to attract students. Graduation rates at those schools are about average for the city.
The building has gone through various attempts at reorganization over the past decade, with uneven results. For example, middle schools grades were added--and then taken away. The Secondary School for Research changed its name to Park Slope Collegiate.
Law added a focus on arts to its emphasis on law.
Like many older school buildings, John Jay has some impressive facilities, including three gyms and an attractive auditorium. It has a pool, chiefly used now by Millennium students, along with swim teams from other Brooklyn high schools. Some parts of John Jay have crumbled a bit but the corridors are color coded for the individual schools, and the building is slated for a further sprucing up.
The building, though, is hardly welcoming. It has two entrances – the one in front for visitors and one on the side for students. Anyone entering John Jay must pass through a metal detector. On the day we visited, a guard repeatedly questioned a parent whose English was limited about why he wanted to enter the building and chided him for not removing his belt before going through the detector. School security balked at having their pictures taken – even from the public sidewalk. Other school employees rudely chastised students who wanted to use the school elevator.
Meanwhile, judging from their school surveys, many students do not feel safe. More than quarter of students at each school said they do not feel safe outside the building. More than 20 percent at each school -- and more than a third at Law -- said they do not feel safe in hallways and bathrooms. Many students also faulted the building for not being clean.
John Jay High School closed in 2004. All inquiries about the records and history of John Jay High School should be directed to the Secondary School for Journalism. (Gail Robinson, April 2012)