Boys and Girls High School
BROOKLYN NY 11213 Map
Boys and Girls High School
MAY 2011 UPDATE: Boys and Girls High School is one of 22 schools that will receive Small Improvement Grant funding of up to $2 million to implement the “Restart” intervention model. Each “Restart” school will be matched to a non-profit educational partner organization that will work closely with the principal and school community to implement a targeted improvement plan aimed at strengthening the curriculum, developing academic supports for students, and helping teachers improve practice. These schools will remain open and a new class of students will be admitted next year.
MARCH 2011 REVIEW: Boys and Girls High School struggles with low levels of academic achievement, poor attendance, and significant discipline problems. Graduation rates have plummeted in recent years, and in 2010 Boys and Girls landed on the state’s list of failing schools.
Three-quarters of the students who responded to a 2009-10 Department of Education survey said there was gang activity at the school and 35 percent said they did not feel safe in hallways or bathrooms. Many said fights and bullying are frequent. Forty-four percent said the school was not clean.
Bernard Gassaway, who took over as principal in 2009, has divided the school into five smaller units, or “learning communities,” added extra math and English periods and started new after-school, weekend and summer learning programs, according to the Brooklyn Movement Center blog. The blog said Gassaway has worked at the school from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. most weekdays, and has come in most weekends too. “He’s the right man at the right time,” said Stanley Kinard, who works in the school’s college and career office.
Despite its many challenges, the school offers a range of Advanced Placement courses and an extensive list of PSAL sports. There is a community service requirement, an orientation in the summer for incoming students, and students must wear a uniform of tan khaki pants or skirt and a polo shirt of a specific color depending on which academy the student is in. One academy, the Institute for Computer and Technology, provides students with computer literacy, maintenance skills and knowledge of programming languages.
Once nicknamed “The Pride and Joy of Bed Stuy,” Boys and Girls was led for years by a charismatic disciplinarian, Frank Mickens, who patrolled outside school carrying a claw hammer until his retirement in 2004. Mickens’ supporters said he brought order to what had been a troubled, chaotic place by enforcing strict codes of conduct and keeping kids he called troublemakers out. But critics said he illegally pushed out low-achieving students. In 2008, after a lawsuit by Advocates for Children, the city agreed to give students who had been excluded from school a second chance to graduate, according to the The New York Times’ City Room blog.
Enrollment increased by nearly 1,200 students between 2002 and 2005 as other large schools in Brooklyn were closed and students were diverted to Boys and Girls. Graduation rates declined from 68 percent in 2003 to 37 percent in 2010. At its peak, nearly 5,000 students were enrolled. By the 2010-11 school year, enrollment was bellow 2,000. Attendance, while well below the citywide average, had improved slightly. The school did not respond to our request to visit. This profile was compiled from DOE data and news reports (Aryn Bloodworth, March 2011)