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Central Park East High School

Grades: 9-12
Staff Pick Staff Pick for Special Ed
1573 Madison Avenue
Manhattan NY 10029
Phone: 212-860-5929

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.

ADMISSIONS: Open houses are scheduled every fall. Students may apply from anywhere in New York City. Admission is screened, and preference is given to students with a good attendance record and grades above 89. (Lydie Raschka, web report and interview, March 2018)    

Read more

School Stats

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

Is this school safe and well-run?

From 2019-20 NYC School Survey

How many teachers say order and discipline are maintained at this school?
75% Citywide Average
How many students say they feel safe in the hallways, bathrooms and locker rooms?
86% Citywide Average
How many students think bullying happens most or all of the time at this school?
37% Citywide Average
How many teachers say the principal is an effective manager?
79% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 NY State Report Card

How many students were suspended?
2% Citywide Average

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
76% Citywide Average
Years of principal experience at this school

How do students perform academically?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many students graduate in 4 years?
82% Citywide Average
How many students graduate with test scores high enough to enroll at CUNY without remedial help?
48% Citywide Average
How many students take a college-level course or earn a professional certificate?
41% Citywide Average
How many graduates stay enrolled in college for at least 3 semesters?
67% Citywide Average

Who does this school serve?

From 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Free or reduced priced lunch
Students with disabilities
English language learners

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

Average daily attendance
87% Citywide Average
How many students miss 18 or more days of school?
38% Citywide Average

How does this school serve special populations?

From 2019-20 School Quality Guide

How many students with disabilities graduate in 4 years?
66% Citywide Average

For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Programs & Admissions

From the 2021 High School Directory

Central Park East
Admissions Method: Screened


Language Courses


Advanced Placement (AP) courses

AP English Literature and Composition, AP English Language and Composition, AP Computer Science Principles, AP Calculus AB, AP Environmental Science, AP United States History, AP Statistics


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


East Harlem (District 4)
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


Bennett Lieberman
Parent Coordinator
Glenda Arvelo

Other Details

Shared campus?
This school shares a building with East Harlem Scholars Academy Charter School
Metal detectors?

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