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Central Park East High School

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed

Our Insights

What’s Special

Quality special ed; good college help; many sports teams

The Downside

Some classrooms are cramped

Central Park East High School (CPE) offers field trips, strong academics, and a full-time college counselor who has helped students get into some top colleges. The school has more sports teams than are typically offered at a small school, including a football team made up of students from a number of high schools in northern Manhattan. It has a beautiful outdoor track shared by other schools in the building.

The high school, which occupies the basement, ground floor and part of the third floor of the Jackie Robinson Education Complex, successfully integrates students receiving special education services into regular classes, many of which have two teachers. Admissions has become fiercely competitive, with nearly 5,000 applicants for 100 seats.

Principal Bennett Lieberman encourages teachers to plan lessons together because one of the problems students encounter when adjusting to high school, he says, is having "seven different teachers with seven different sets of expectations." So, for example, all teachers instruct their students how to take notes in the same way. This joint planning makes the transition to ninth grade easier, Lieberman says.

CPE students take trips throughout the school year, not only to colleges in and out of the city but also to locations such as a wastewater treatment plant to learn about pollution and water filtration. The AP Living Environment class takes seven to 10 trips per year, Lieberman says.

The majority of the students are from low-income families, and some will be the first in their families to go to college. The staff has studied how to best serve low-income students, particularly black and Latino boys, so that once they get into college they stay in college. A theater group walks teens through scenarios that may make them uncomfortable in college, such as having to stay on campus during school breaks when other students are able to fly home.

“We do a very good job both matching kids to the right college with the right financial aid package and preparing them academically and socially-emotionally" so they are not overwhelmed once they enter the "different world" of college, Lieberman says.

The school is part of a coalition of about five schools called East Harlem Pride, and teachers network with one another across the coalition. For example, Lieberman says, many 11th-grade students across the five schools complete the same unit in English, with some 200 teens gathering for a learning celebration at the end of a unit. “It builds a lot of community in East Harlem," he says. "We have fewer potential issues outside school than we would otherwise." 

CPE students also come together with students from the other East Harlem Pride high schools on 16 different sports teams, including track and field, volleyball, football and softball. There is also a golf club and a cheerleading team.

The school has a full-time college counselor and graduates have been admitted to Syracuse University, Barnard, New York University, University of Chicago, Skidmore, Tufts and Cornell, Lieberman says. Roughly 70 to 80 percent go to four-year colleges, and 90 percent of those students were still in college 18 months later, according to the city’s quality review.

The school was founded by the celebrated progressive educator Debbie Meier in 1985. Under Lieberman’s leadership, it has a more traditional bent. Central Park East I elementary school, also in the building, retains its Meier-era philosophy and tone.

SPECIAL EDUCATION: The school is committed to integrating students with special needs into general education classes. Classroom teachers have different expectations (and different homework assignments) depending on students' strengths and weaknesses. There are team-teaching classes for all grades and all subjects. Special education teachers return year after year, providing continuity with general education teachers, Lieberman says. At-risk students are assigned to a "mentor teacher" who makes sure they receive all of the services to which they are entitled. "We've really embraced special education," Lieberman adds. (Lydie Raschka, web report and interview, March 2018)  

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School Stats

Citywide Average Key
This school is Better Near Worse than the citywide average


How many students graduate in 4 years?
How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
Average daily attendance
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school offers enough activities and services for their children's needs?
How many parents of students with disabilities say this school works to achieve the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2022-23 School Quality Guide and 2022-23 NYC School Survey


Number of students
Citywide Average is 615


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2022-23 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

How many students were suspended?
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
How many students say that some are bullied at their school because of their gender or sexual orientation?
How many teachers say they would recommend this school to other families?
From the 2022-23 NYC School Survey and 2019-20 NY State Report Card

Faculty & Staff

How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
Years of principal experience at this school
Citywide Average is 7
Number of students for each guidance counselor or social worker
Citywide Average is 191
How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
Are teachers effective?
From the 2022-23 NYC School Survey, 2022-23 School Quality Guide, 2021-22 Report on School-Based Staff Demographics, 2023 Guidance Counselor Report, and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

Advanced Courses

Which students have access to advanced courses at this school? Learn more



Computer Science




Advanced Foreign Language


AP/IB Arts, English, History or Social Science


AP/IB Math or Science



Not offered in 2019-20
From unpublished, anonymized data from the 2021-22 school year provided by the New York State Education Department, brought to you by

College Readiness

How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
How many students who have graduated from this high school stay in college for at least 3 semesters?
From the 2020-21 and 2022-23 School Quality Guide

How many graduates who are eligible received Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) funding to attend a NYS college?
This shows how well this school supports low-income students to get funding for college.
How many of those TAP recipients made it through college? Learn more
From unpublished, anonymized student-level data for the class of 2016-17 provided by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) in coordination with the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), brought to you by
How many students filled out a FAFSA form by the end of their senior year?
From the 2022-23 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought to you by Visit Understanding FAFSA for help with the FAFSA and financial aid.
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2024 High School Directory

Central Park East (M86A)

Admissions Method: Screened


From the 2024 High School Directory

Language Courses


Advanced Courses

Algebra II (Advanced Math), AP Calculus AB, AP Computer Science Principles, AP English Language and Composition, AP English Literature and Composition, AP Environmental Science, AP Seminar, AP Statistics, AP United States History, Chemistry (Advanced Science), ELA (College Course [Credited]), ELA (College Course [Uncredited]), Math (College Course [Credited]), Physics (Advanced Science), Science (College Course [Credited]), Social Studies (College Course [Credited]), World Languages (Advanced World Languages), World Languages (College Course [Uncredited])

Boys PSAL teams

Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Football, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Volleyball, Wrestling

Girls PSAL teams

Basketball, Flag Football, Golf, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Softball, Volleyball

Read about admissions, academics, and more at this school on NYCDOE’s MySchools

NYC Department of Education: MySchools

Contact & Location


1573 Madison Avenue
Manhattan NY 10029

Trains: 2 Line, 3 Line to 110th St-Central Park North; 6 Line to 103rd St

Buses: BxM11, BxM2, BxM3, BxM4, M1, M101, M102, M103, M106, M116, M15, M15-SBS, M2, M3, M4, M96, M98


Principal: Mayra Messi

Parent Coordinator: Glenda Arvelo


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No

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