Secondary School for Law

237 7 AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11215 Map
Phone: (718) 832-4250
Website: Click here
Admissions: District 15 & Brooklyn priority
Principal: ONEATHA SWINTON
Neighborhood: Park Slope
District:15
Grade range: 9-12
Parent Coordinator: DENISE COPELAND
Law & Government

Buses: B61, B63, B67

What's special:

New AP classes and arts programs

The downside:

Awkward space, security concerns

InsideSchools Review

Our review:

The Secondary School for Law, one of four schools in the John Jay building in Park Slops, has struggled since its founding in 2004. Now, the school boasts new classes and an increased focus on the arts. Its tiny, low-performing middle school is closing and staff can concentrate on preparing high school students for college. These and other changes, the principal hopes, will enable Law to finally become an academically competitive school for students from all over Brooklyn.

Principal Oneatha Swinton said that when she came to Law in September 2010 enrollment was down. The school had barely avoided a D on its Progress Report. The graduation rate had taken a precipitous drop, and students cut class and hung out in the halls.

She saw her job as "cleaning up and doing what I had to do" -- improving teaching and making classes more demanding. By all accounts, it did not go entirely smoothly. In the Learning Environment Survey for her first year, teachers gave the administration harsh marks. Half said they did not trust her.

But now Swinton says her efforts are paying off. The school added more training for teachers, its Progress Report scores have risen and Swinton says Law now "has a clear instructional vision." Swinton sponsors a staff appreciation dinner and says she considers the school “a family.” It still must contend with an awkward space, split between two floors in John Jay, a building that has had security and image problems.

On our visit we saw some innovative teaching. A 9th grade teacher used the Socratic method to challenge student assumptions about the death of Trayvon Martin. An animated 10th grade teacher engaged her students in a discussion of Dante's inferno, and a living environment teacher use paper bags to help student visualize bacteria. Five AP courses are offered.

Online teaching will allow the school to expand its language offering to French and Japanese, in addition to Spanish. The law program remains, with moot court, mock trials and a partnership with a law firm. But to attract and engage students who may have other interests, Swinton added a popular dance program and visual arts classes. She plans to offer violin and AP Studio Art and to give students the choice of a law or humanities track.

Law now has three deans -- two of whom who also teach. Along with Swinton, they carry walkie-talkies as they patrol the halls and urge students to go to class. They also serve as ad hoc guidance counselors, people students can speak to if they have a problem.

"The kids know I love them," Swinton says, "but they know I will tear them apart if they get crazy."

Students seem to like her too. “The principal is sweet and well-dressed. She sets a good example,” girls told us.

Despite metal detectors and heavy security at the building, many students said on the Learning Environment Survey that they do not feel safe. Much of the trouble apparently happens in the stairwells -- Law is divided between two floors -- and other shared areas of the building.

About 80 percent of graduates go to college, with most attending four-year schools, largely SUNYs and CUNYs. To help students navigate the application process, Law has a college counseling class that meets twice a week for 50 minutes. All seniors must fill out a CUNY application.

Students at Law can join the PSAL sports teams shared with Park Slope Collegiate and the Secondary School of Journalism, and the school offers its own activities as well.

Special education: Law is phasing out its self-contained special ed classes, replacing them with team-teaching classes.

Admission: Although the school gives priority to District 15 student and screens applicants for grades and attendance, it attracts few students from that district. Most students who apply are admitted. (Gail Robinson, April 2012)

InsideStats

Click tabs above to see school stats

At a glance

Shared campus? Yes

John Jay Educational Campus

Number of Students 389

Average Daily Attendance 86%

Uniforms? No

Metal detectors? Yes

Students at this school

Asian

  
2%

Black

  
66%

Hispanic

  
25%

White

  
5%

Free Lunch

  
83%

Special ed

  
12%

English Language Learners

  
2%

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

Safety & vibe

ARE CLASSES BIG?

Number of students in an average english class

21 25 CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO STUDENTS LIKE THE TEACHERS?

How many students say their teachers inspire them to learn?

64% 63% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

DO TEACHERS LIKE THE PRINCIPAL?

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?

65% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

IS THIS SCHOOL SAFE?

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

78% 82% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

 
 

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

65% 77% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

HOW IS
ATTENDANCE?

How Many Students are Chronically Absent?

37% 38% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Who graduates

Class of 2013

How many 2009 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

82% 70% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2007 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

82% 78% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Previous Years

How many 2008 freshmen graduated within 4 years?

81% 66% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

4% 12% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2006 freshmen graduated within 6 years?

73% 75% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How many 2008 freshmen dropped out within 4 years?

1% 11% 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?

11%

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

4%

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

18%

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?

22% 27% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

SAT reading scores

423
414 CITYWIDE AVERAGE 496 NATIONWIDE AVERAGE

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

55%

SAT math scores

418
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?

79% 76% 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?

50% 45% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

0% 53% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

64% 68% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

71% 89% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

How well does this school serve English language learners?

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

40% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

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

58% CITYWIDE AVERAGE

Programs and Admissions

School admission priorities:

  1. Priority to District 15 students or residents
  2. Then to Brooklyn students or residents
  3. Then to New York City residents

Source: High school directory

Secondary School for Law

Screened

Program emphasizes the study of law; opportunities for mentoring, internships and mock trial/moot court.

Selection Criteria

  • English (80-100) , Math (80-100) , Science (80-100) , Social Studies (80-100)
  • Math Levels: 2-4 ; English Language Arts Levels: 2-4

There may be additional selection criteria, see the High School Directory for more information

Academics

AP COURSES: Calculus AB, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, Spanish Language, United States History

Online: N/A

Language classes: French, Spanish

Source: High school directory

Sports/Clubs

EXTRACURRICULAR: After-school Sports and Dance, Arnhold New Dance Teacher Suppport Program, Arts Connection, Brooklyn Arts Council, Chess, Cooking, Debate Team, Mock Trial Team, Mural Art, National Honor Society, Peer Mediation, Project Reach Youth, SAT Preparation, SPARK, Student Government, Tutorials, Weightlifting, Yearbook Design

BOYS PSAL SPORTS: Baseball, Basketball & JV Basketball

GIRLS PSAL SPORTS: Basketball, Softball, Volleyball

Other schools sports: N/A

Source: High school directory

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