Community Prep High School
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A school that serves students as they make the transition from incarceration into regular high school.
Few extra resources for an extremely vulnerable student population.
JUNE 2010 UPDATE: The Department of Education announced it would close Community Prep in June 2010, a spokesperson saying there were "better options." Teachers vowed to challenge the closing of the transitional program designed for students coming out of juvenile detention centers and not yet ready for mainstream high schools. The city said the location would be used by as an alternative school referral center and for GED prep classes.
2005 REVIEW: The only program of its kind in the city, Community Prep High School serves high school students who have just been released from incarceration. The school does not award diplomas, but rather allows students to earn credits while providing them with academic and social services. Students stay at the school for a maximum of two years, and the hope is that they will then continue their education at a conventional high school.
Founded as a partnership between the New York City Department of Education and the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), a not-for-profit social service agency, the school is led by Principal Mark Ryan and Ana Bermudez, the school's CASES director. The school serves approximately 75 students, and its registers reflect the demographics of the juvenile detention centers, according to Ryan. About 80 percent of the students are male.
Students are assigned to classes based on their level of skill, rather than their age or grade. All students participate in a daily "advisory" session, during which they discuss problems or other matters with their peers and an advisor. Advisories are single-sex boys and girls are in separate groups. In addition, each student has individual counseling with his or her advisor once a week.
All students take gym first period, and the school is outfitted with a new set of gym equipment. This has helped to improve attendance, and has dramatically increased the number of students who show up on time, according to Ryan. "I could hire someone for $15,000 a year to call the kids up and tell them to come to school, or I can do this," he explained as he showed off the school's new weight machine. The school has a tiny, closet-like library. The principal says he applied for a grant to improve the space, but was unsuccessful. Still, he has ordered rocking chairs for the small area, and says he hopes it will double as a "peer mediation" room, in which students learn to settle conflicts peacefully.
The school would benefit from more resources, particularly because it serves students who are at great risk of academic failure.
Admissions: The school serves students, ages 14-17, who have accumulated few if any class credits and come, typically, from juvenile detention centers in the city or upstate. Students are almost exclusively residents of Manhattan, and are placed at the school through their regional schools office. About half receive special education services. (Deborah Apsel, March 2005)Read more