High School for Civil Rights

400 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE
BROOKLYN NY 11207 Map
Phone: (718) 922-6289
Website: Click here
Admissions: Brooklyn priority
unzoned
Principal: Michael S. Steele
Neighborhood: East New York
District: 19
Grade range: 09 thru 12
Parent coordinator: KAREN MOORE

What's special:

Law and debate team, courtroom on campus

The downside:

Low attendance

The InsideStats

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Our review

The High School for Civil Rights has expanded its theme to include a focus on law. Students can take classes on Constitutional law and participate in a real Youth Court in the school's onsite court room. There is P.M. school and extra tutoring for the many students who come in below grade level. An experienced staff is quick to address safety concerns, but low attendance persists.

Many students come to Civil Rights in part to participate in the high-powered sports teams that dominate the Jefferson campus where the school is located. To keep them engaged academically after the sports season has ended, the school offers extra classes like forensic science and street law and has an extended day, or P.M. school, which runs from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. There are also double periods in some core subjects, lunch-time tutoring and Saturday school. A summer bridge program and a 9th grade coordinator works to capture students' interest when they first arrive.

High-achieving students can choose from several AP classes, including calculus, U.S. history and English.

Principal Michael Steele, who has led the school since 2005, is hoping to get help from the mayor's male leadership initiative to boost flagging attendance. He is also planning to offer more incentives and rewards for good attendance. "We have very experienced teachers here," said Steele, who believes in a combination of traditional discipline and emotional support. "We try to make it a home away from home."

Located in the highest crime precinct in the city, the schools on the Jefferson campus have worked with the NYPD to create a safe passageway to and from the school. The same problems that exist in the neighborhood and surrounding housing projects seep into the school. All students must pass through metal detectors. Guards were courteous the day we visited, but security is tight and the process can be intimidating.

Inside the school, hallways were orderly and classrooms were quiet. Groups of students who tried to linger in the hallways were sheparded to class by vigilant hall monitors.

College admissions: There is a dedicated college advisor who leads a college prep class every week. A teacher assigned to help with SAT prep. Students mostly attend CUNY and SUNY schools and colleges such as Ithaca College and University of Connecticut.

Special education: There are Integrated Co-teaching classes with two teachers.

After school: The campus hums after school ends. There are numerous high-powered sports teams shared with other schools in Jefferson, academic tutoring and clubs such as cheerleading and robotics.

Admissions: Priority goes to Brooklyn students and residents who attend an information session. (Meredith Kolodner, May 2012)

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