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Paul Robeson High School
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Child-care center for students' babies
School closing because of poor performance
Paul Robeson High School, founded in 1985 to replace the failing Alexander Hamilton Vocational High School, was successful for many years, posting higher than-average graduation rates and attracting strong students to its programs in business and technology. But in recent years, it declined so much that the Department of Education decided to close it.
Beginning in 2011, no new students were admitted, although current students were permitted to stay until 2014 when the last class graduated and the school officially closed. The building, first opened in 1904, now houses Pathways in Technology Early College High School and the Academy for Health Careers.
In the 1990s, the school flourished under the leadership of Principal Marcia Lyles, who went on to become deputy chancellor for instruction. As recently as 2004, the school posted graduation rates above the citywide average, even though there were some concerns about crime, according to The Brooklyn Ink blog.
But the schools fortunes declined precipitously in the years that followed. Some teachers blamed the influx of hundreds of students who were displaced when other large schools in the neighborhood were closed by the Bloomberg Administration. Many of these students had a history of truancy and were much older than the Robeson students in the same grade, according to a report by The Center for New York City Affairs. (see p. 58 of that report.) Gang activity increased when students from rival gangs were assigned to the school, long-time Principal Ira Weston.
As the schools reputation suffered, fewer 8th graders chose Robeson and its enrollment declined. The Department of Education filled empty seats with students who were admitted during the year, including many from correctional facilities, a number of pregnant girls and a significant number who were living in homeless shelters. With a graduation rate of just 50 percent in 2010, the DOE decided to phase out the school.
The building, designed by Charles Snyder, has a large, well-equipped library, and a LYFE child care center for students babies. (Clara Hemphill, August 2012; updated June 2014)Read more