Jane Addams High School for Academic Careers
Founded in 1937, Jane Addams High School had a long history of preparing students for work in hairdressing, nursing, tourism and business. In recent years, the vocational school suffered from declining enrollments and graduation rates. It was rocked by a scandal in 2011, in which students were apparently given credit for courses they never took. The principal, Sharron Smalls, was removed and replaced by Joel DiBartolomeo, whom colleagues describe as an effective leader. However, the Department of Education, believing more drastic action was necessary, decided in 2012 to close the school. No new students were admitted but students who were already enrolled were allowed to stay until they graduate. The last class graduated in 2015 and the school officially closed.
Two new schools, The School for Tourism and Hospitality and New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science II, both opened in 2012, are now housed in the building.
Smalls was accused of giving cosmetology students credit for chemistry—even though the school had no chemistry teacher, according to New York Times. She caused a stir when racy pictures of her appeared on Facebook, according to the Daily News.
Teachers defended the school and said the city’s policies had undermined it. When the school was divided into small academies in 2010 at the behest of the Department of Education, classes in precalculus, calculus, physics, chemistry, and Advanced Placement courses were no longer offered, teachers wrote in a blog post in the New York Times. The school has long served a needy population. It has a child care center, called LYFE, so young parents can continue their education.
Starting in 2003, Jane Addams was the victim of “collateral damage,” according to a report by the Center for New York City Affairs. When large, dysfunctional schools in the Bronx were closed as part of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s education reforms, students were assigned to remaining schools, such as Jane Addams. Jane Addams had been mostly female, but several hundred boys—few of whom had an interest in the program such as cosmetology—were enrolled. The school became less orderly and attendance and graduation rates declined, the report said.
(Clara Hemphill, July 2012, updated September 2015)