Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice

Grades 6-12
Staff Pick
Marquee homepage

Location

244 East 163 Street
Bronx NY 10451
Concourse (District 9)
Trains: 4, B, D to 161st St-Yankee Stadium
Buses: Bx1, Bx13, Bx2, Bx32, Bx35, Bx41, Bx41-SBS, Bx6

Contact

Phone
718-410-3430
Principal
Johanie Hernandez
Parent Coordinator
Mildred Smallwood

What’s Special

Modern facility. Excellent debate program.

The Downside

Lacks an outdoor area. Graduation rate could be higher.

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)

About the students

Enrollment
774
Asian
1.3%
Black
24.8%
Hispanic
71.1%
White
1.0%
Other
1.8%
Free or reduced priced lunch
91%
Students with disabilities
21%
English language learners
7%

About the school

Shared campus?
No
This school is in its own building.
Uniforms required?
Yes
Metal detectors?
No
How crowded? (Full is 100%)
106%
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Attendance

Average daily attendance
91%
90% Citywide Average
How many students are chronically absent?
22%
27% Citywide Average

Is this school safe?

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
85%
75% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
51%
45% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
81%
84% Citywide Average
How many students say most students treat each other with respect?
43%
49% Citywide Average

About the leadership

Years of principal experience at this school
0.9
5.8 Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
87%
79% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal has a clear vision for this school?
93%
85% Citywide Average
How many teachers trust the principal?
83%
78% Citywide Average

About the teachers

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
54%
70% Citywide Average
Teacher attendance
96%
97% Citywide Average
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
96%
82% Citywide Average
How many teachers think the staff collaborate to make this school run effectively?
91%
84% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

Test scores

How many students scored 3-4 on the state math exam?
30%
29% Citywide Average
How many students scored 3-4 on the state ELA exam?
46%
38% Citywide Average

Arts offerings

This school has 4 dedicated spaces for Music and Media arts
This school has 5 licensed arts teacher in Music (part-time), Visual arts (part-time), Music, and Theater

Engaging curriculum?

How many students say this school offers enough programs, classes and activities to keep them interested?
78%
68% Citywide Average
How many students say they are challenged in most or all of their classes?
58%
56% Citywide Average
How many students say the programs, classes and activities here encourage them to develop talent outside academics?
70%
69% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for high school?

Accelerated courses offered for high school credit
Spanish, US History, Algebra I, Earth Science
How many 8th graders earn high school credit?
77%
38% Citywide Average
How many graduates of this school pass all their classes in 9th grade?
86%
87% Citywide Average
What high schools do most graduates attend?
Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How many graduate?

How many students graduate in 4 years?
84%
83% Citywide Average
How many graduates earn Advanced Regents diplomas?
0%
13% Citywide Average
How many students drop out?
6%
4% Citywide Average

Are students prepared for college?

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
28%
38% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
37%
48% Citywide Average
How many graduate and enter college within 18 months?
70%
71% Citywide Average
Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average

How does this school serve English Language Learners?

How many English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
17%
3% Citywide Average
How many former English language learners score 3-4 on the State ELA exam?
55%
43% Citywide Average
How many English language learners graduate in 4 years?
73%
65% Citywide Average

How does this school serve students with disabilities?

This school offers self-contained classes
This school offers team teaching (ICT)
Average math score for ICT students
1.8
1.9 Citywide Average
Average math score for self-contained students
2.06
2.1 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for ICT students
1.92
1.9 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for self-contained students
2.3
2.2 Citywide Average
Average math score for SETSS students
2.92
2.2 Citywide Average
Average ELA score for SETSS students
2.58
2.3 Citywide Average
How many students say that students with disabilities are included in all activities?
52%
67% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
91%
86% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
95%
90% Citywide Average
How many parents of students with disabilities say they are satisfied with the IEP development process at this school?
95%
89% Citywide Average
How many special ed students graduate in 4 years?
55%
67% Citywide Average
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data

Programs and Admissions

Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice for New Students
Admissions Method: Ed. Opt.
Program Description

Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice for Current Students
Admissions Method: For Continuing 8th Graders
Program Description

Academics

Language Courses

Spanish

Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English, AP US Government and Politics

Sports

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Indoor Track

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Cross Country, Outdoor Track, Softball, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on the NYCDOE’s School Finder
NYC Department of Education: School Finder

  • Give specific examples. Tell us why this school rocks (or doesn't).
  • Criticism is fine, but no profanity, racist or ethnic slurs, or personal attacks.
  • All users must comply with our Terms of Use.