Lois and Richard Nicotra Early College Charter School

Grades: 8-12
Staff Pick for Special Ed

Our Insights

What’s Special

Focus on mental health; summer classes

The Downside

No track record

Lois and Richard Nicotra Early College Charter School welcomes and integrates students living with emotional challenges and other special needs and helps them overcome the disadvantages of poverty, according to the school's website.

Founded in 2018 with 85 students, Nicotra offers small classes, pathways in business or law, and the opportunity to earn up to 60 free college credits at St. John’s University. 

The first early college high school on Staten Island, Nicotra is one of four schools in the Integration Charter Schools network, founded by former social worker and Zen teacher, Kenneth Byalin. The network has eight full-time mental health professionals and a part-time psychologist to serve its schools. It also hosts social work, psychology and mental health interns from education programs around the city. All staff train on how to work with students with mental health challenges.

Nicotra has an unusual year-round model to accelerate instruction to get students ready to take college classes as early as 11th grade. Since many students come in with special needs and below-average skills, the school combines one cohort of 8th and 9th grades, who move up the grades together.

All classes are taught by a teacher and a teaching assistant and are capped at 18 students to provide the individual support students need.

Nicotra students attend school from 7:50 am to 2:40 am during the regular school year, and from 8 am to 1 pm during July and August. Summer school is designed to help boost incoming students’ study skills, writing and test-taking skills. All children get computer tablets and they take them home when they graduate if they are still in good shape, the school secretary said. Extra academic and mental health support is a hallmark of the school.

Three of the schools in the Integration Charter Schools network are housed at 1 Teleport Drive on Staten Island but Nicotra will eventually move into a new building (in construction) behind the Teleport location that will take into consideration different learning styles, with couches, and different types of study areas. John W. Lavelle Prep (K-12), Staten Island’s first charter school founded in 2009, will remain in the Teleport location.

The other network school is New Ventures (9-12), a tiny transfer school for students who were unsuccessful at their previous high school. The building also houses Richmond Pre-K Center.  

The fourth school in the network, Richmond Prep, is slated to open in 2020 and will specialize in integrating students with autism.

Special education: The school secretary said that while the school is officially unscreened, the administration does look at IEPs (Individual Educational Plans) because students with severe special needs may not be well served in this integration model, and may need an even smaller setting. 

Admissions:  By lottery. (Lydie Raschka, phone interview and web reports, January 2019)




School Stats


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 achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2020-21 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
611 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 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?
From the 2020-21 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
8 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2020-21 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


1 Teleport Drive
Staten Island NY 10311


Principal: Zaza, Joseph


Other Details

Shared campus? Yes

This school shares a building with four other schools

Uniforms required? No
Metal detectors? No


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