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Lehman High Community Hopes DOE Can Spare The Struggling School

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The Bronx's Lehman High School is one of eight city high schools facing a phaseout because of poor performance, but students, staff and their supporters hope to convince education officials otherwise before a final vote next month. Borough reporter Erin Clarke filed the following report.

It's a hard lesson for Lehman High School students in the Westchester Square section of the Bronx. The city Department of Education wants to close the school in 2016, citing low math and English Language Arts (ELA) scores, a low percent of freshman on track to graduate in four years and an overall low graduation rate.

However, some Lehman High students told NY1 that does not reflect the quality of education they receive.

"If we're not going to have a school, a lot of kids in the Bronx are going to fall apart and they're going to have nothing left," said one student.

"There's actually good teachers in the school," said another.

"Lehman has a lot of different opportunities that certain schools don't have like the college program," said a third.

Echoing that sentiment, Lehman students, staff and their supporters gathered earlier this week to make one final plea to DOE officials to keep their school open.

This is not the first time Lehman has faced closure. Last year, the DOE tried to close the school and an arbitrator ruled against the decision.

Some of Lehman's supporters said it seems the plan all along was to get rid of the high school, even though they believe the department's actions made the school suffer.

"They forced upon us three principals in four years. They forced upon us 4,200 students, they forced upon this new principal hiring 42 new teachers in one year because their turnaround model was thrown out by the courts," said Bronx Councilman James Vacca.

Despite those hardships, Lehman parents said the current staff has turned the school around, noting a full letter grade improvement from "F" to "D" on Lehman's school report card.

They admitted a "D" is nothing to brag about, but said it will take more than a year to get out of the hole dug by previous administrators.

"My daughter is doing so good this year. Last year, to be honest, she was doing really bad," said Cindy Perez, the parent of a Lehman student. "She had a 60 average and this year she has a 90.7 average. And I'm really proud of her right now and they're working really good."

Now all they can do is wait and hope. A final vote on Lehman's future is scheduled for March 11.

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