Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice

An Insideschools pick

244 EAST 163 STREET
BRONX NY 10451 Map
Phone: (718) 410-3430
Website: Click here
Admissions: educational option
Wheelchair accessible
Principal: Meisha Ross-Porter
Neighborhood: South Bronx
District: 9
Grade range: 06 thru 12
Parent Coordinator: MILDRED SMALLWOOD

Buses: BX1, BX13, BX32, BX35, BX41, BX6

What's special:

Modern facility. Excellent debate program.

The downside:

Lacks an outdoor area. Graduation rate could be higher.

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

Metal detectors are noticeably absent at the entrance to Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice, but students don't walk in the door without inspection. Each morning, principal Meisha Ross-Porter and her two assistant principals stand in the lobby, greeting arrivals while ensuring dress codes are obeyed.

"We make a big thing out of little things, so we don't have huge things," explained Ross-Porter, who since 2004 has been principal of a school known for discipline and order. Students can often be seen stopping in the foyer, changing out of forbidden boots or sneakers into acceptable black dress shoes. Once inside, past the cluster of sharp-eyed administrators, students typically head to a mandatory 8:15 a.m. meeting — high schoolers in the cafeteria, and middle schoolers in the gym.

Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice's stated goal is to educate students while introducing them to topics that could lead to careers in law or government. The school sits next door to the Bronx's new glass-walled criminal courthouse, where students often visit as part of mentoring programs with judges and lawyers. LGJ (as it's often called) features a mock courtroom and a small law library. More than a dozen law firms and companies (including several News Corp. divisions) offer internships.

Classroom assignments often have a legal flavor. One English class we observed drilled students in how to make claims and counter-claims. Forensic science is a required course. Debate is a popular after-school club and the source of virtually all the trophies in the display case, as well as favorable press.

But the combined middle and high school also stresses core academic subjects amid a dose of old-school discipline. School uniforms include ties for both boys and girls. Students are given lockers, but locker privileges are revoked if rules are broken. (Books or coats carried in a shopping bag are telltale signs locker use has been suspended.) Classes we visited appeared orderly and polite. Principal Porter said she sometimes goes off-campus to fetch a tardy student spotted at a nearby store. At a school party, Ross-Porter used a water bottle to squirt students who were dancing inappropriately close to each other. ("They're never happy after a party," she said.)

Some students appeared weary of the strict rules, but most seemed accustomed to the rigid order and appreciated a feeling of safety. The school "was everything they said it was going to be," said Raven, a 17-year-old junior who had been at LGJ since 7th grade and who hopes to become a federal defense attorney. Even the dress code had its positive side, Raven said. "I don't have to wake up every morning dying about what I'm going to wear," she said.

LGJ opened in 1997, the first of New York's Urban Assembly schools. Since 2003, LGJ has been housed in a modern brick building located about seven blocks from Yankee Stadium. The middle school is mostly on the first and second floors, while high school classes occupy the third and fourth floors. The building features modern science and Mac-equipped computer labs, a large basement cafeteria plus a full-size indoor gym and fitness center (each grade takes PE three to five days a week), but the campus has no auditorium, courtyard or outdoor athletic facilities. The absence of metal detectors at a Bronx high school is a rare and welcome surprise.

Principal Ross-Porter admits LGJ struggles to raise its graduation rate. "Obviously, we want it to be higher," she said. The school has three guidance counselors, including one who focuses on 12th-graders to help them meet deadlines and fill in missing credits. Students who failed Regents examinations (the most common reason seniors don't graduate) can often take classes designed specifically to prep for another try.

College admissions: About 80 percent of graduates are accepted into four-year colleges. John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a popular choice, but top graduates have also been accepted to elite colleges such as Brown and Dartmouth. The school partners with the income-tax firm H&R Block in a program designed to help seniors apply for college financial aid.

After school: In addition to its popular debate program, LGJ also offers fencing, track, dance, chorus and theater. The school has varsity basketball, baseball, volleyball and softball teams.

Special education: LGJ has self-contained and integrated co-teaching (ICT) classes, as well as SETSS support services.

Admissions: Students must attend an open house and fill out an application. In 2010, 700 students applied for 90 available 6th-grade seats. Applicants are ranked based on their interest in the school, and between 120 and 150 finalists earn interviews. ("You'll never get in this school if you just put us on your application," Principal Porter said.) The school selects half the students, and the Department of Education selects the other half. About 90 percent of 8th-graders stay at LGJ to attend high school. Students can live anywhere in New York, but most are from Harlem or Districts 9 and 10 in the Bronx. (Skip Card, December 2011)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building

Number of Students 773

Average Daily Attendance 92%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? No

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
26%

Hispanic

  
70%

White

  
1%

Free Lunch

  
90%

Special ed

  
17%

English Language Learners

  
6%

INCOMING STUDENTS' PROFICIENCY: 2.90 2.80 CITYWIDE AVERAGE


1 = Far below grade level 2 = Below grade level 3 = At grade level 4 = Above grade level

Middle school students reading at grade level:

15% 25% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Middle school students doing math at grade level:

19% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

32 24 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

39% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

79% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

How many students say they feel safe in hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?

63% 83% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained in the school?

89% 80% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

24% 34% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

84% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

78% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

75% 64% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen earned an advanced regents diploma within 4 years?

6% 11% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

88% 73% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

9% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

College prep

Does this school offer a college preparatory curriculum?

How many students took an AP or IB class and scored at least a "3" on the AP exam or a "4" on the IB exam?

14%

How Many Students took a College Course and Got a "C" or Higher?

25%

How many students passed a Regents exam for algebra 2, physics or chemistry?

14%

Are students ready for college?

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?

35% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

429
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2009 freshmen graduated in four years and enrolled in college?

75%

SAT math scores

432
425 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 514 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

Is the guidance counseling helpful?

How many students say that this school provides helpful counseling on college or job-seeking?

67% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Special ed & ELL

How well does this school serve students with disabilities?

How many special ed students starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

44% 44% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many special ed students starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

57% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many students with disabilities spend most of the day with non-disabled peers?

56% 79% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many teachers say students with disabilities are included in all activities?

77% 88% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

How many English language learners starting school in 2008 graduated within 4 years?

38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many English language learners starting school in 2006 graduated within 6 years?

57% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to continuing 8th graders
  2. Then to Bronx students or residents
  3. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice for New Students

Ed. Opt.

Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice for Current Students

For Continuing 8th Graders

Academics

AP COURCES: Biology, English Literature and Composition, Government and Politics: United States, Spanish Language

Online: N/A

Language classes: Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: Capoeira, Chorus, Dance, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Math, Mock Trial, New York Police Department (NYPD) Explorers, Newspaper, Policy Debate, Senior Committee, Spanish, Student Government, Yearbook.

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball & JV Baseball, Basketball & JV Basketball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Softball, Volleyball

Other schools sports: Cheerleading, Fencing

Source: High school directory

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