Democracy Prep Harlem Charter High School

Grades: 9-12

Our Insights

What’s Special

Students learn Korean and receive support throughout the college process

The Downside

Strict rules and high suspension rate

Democracy Prep Harlem High combines rigorous academics with strict discipline. For those who do well in a regimented environment, the school offers the opportunity to study Korean language and culture, to develop civic engagement skills and to write lengthy independent research papers. The schools offer a longer school day and year and the possibility of international travel.

Founded in 2013, Democracy Prep Harlem is the second high school in a network of schools founded by Seth Andrews, a graduate of Bronx High School of Science and the Harvard School of Education who taught in South Korea. His schools, which serve mostly black and Latino students, aim to replicate what Andrews saw as the Korean values of hard work and respect for teachers.

The pace is fast and the environment is competitive. Students who cannot keep up may be asked to repeat a grade, and some become discouraged and leave each year. But those who persevere are admitted to top colleges and get advice and support from other Democracy Prep alumni during their college years. Though the sampling of students is small, Democracy Prep has had better success than most charter networks getting students into and through college, according to an article in the Daily News.

Students take four years of Korean language and learn about Korean culture through traditional music, dance and practices. Some even go to South Korea. Teachers hope that learning Korean will instill confidence in students and help them stand out in the college process.

Unlike some charters that don’t accept students after a certain grade, Democracy Prep takes in new students whenever a spot opens up, even in later grades. Each student is assigned a faculty advisor. Tutoring is available on the weekends, after school and in the summer.

The school website shows musical theater performances, such as In the Heights, and trips to Ecuador and South Africa, for those who reach certain academic and behavior benchmarks. 

Democracy Prep schools instill aculture of strict discipline. Students earn points to earn special privileges and demerits for tardiness, missing uniforms and other infractions. Students are dismissed early on Friday unless they have been assigned a one- or two-hour detention, according to the student handbook. The suspension rate was 25 percent, far above the statewide average, in the most recently available data. 

Civic action includes trips to Albany and Washington D.C. to speak to elected officials on issues of importance to students. All seniors complete a final college-level research project on a social or political issue of their choosing. 

Admissions: By lottery. Applications due April 1. Check the website to apply, and find dates to attend an open house. (Lydie Raschka, web reports, photo credit, February 2019)

School Stats


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 achive the goals of their students' IEPs?
From the 2019-20 School Quality Guide and 2020-21 NYC School Survey


Number of students
644 Citywide Average


Low-income students
Students with disabilities
Multilingual learners
From the 2020-21 Demographic Snapshot

Safety & Vibe

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
7 Citywide Average

Teachers’ Race/Ethnicity

How many teachers have 3 or more years of experience teaching?
From the 2020-21 NYC School Survey, 2019-20 School Quality Guide, 2019-20 NY State Report Card, 2021 Guidance Counselor Report and this school's most recent Quality Review Report

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?
From the 2019-20 School Quality Guide
From the 2020-21 FAFSA data released by Federal Student Aid, brought you by
For more information about our data sources, see About Our Data · More DOE statistics for this school

Contact & Location


212 West 120th Street
Manhattan NY 10027

Trains: 2 Line,3, B Line, C Line to 116th St; A Line, D Line to 125th St

Buses: M2, M3, M7, M10, M60-SBS, M100, M101, M102, M116, Bx15


Principal: Matthew Rooney


Other Details

Shared campus? No

This school is in its own building.

Uniforms required? Yes
Metal detectors? No

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