Lafayette High School (New York City)
|Lafayette High School|
|2630 Benson Avenue
New York City (Bath Beach, Brooklyn), New York
United States 11214
|Color(s)||Maroon and white|
Lafayette High School was a large secondary school located in the Bath Beach section of Brooklyn, New York City, New York. It was one of the low performing high schools of the city and was operated by the New York City Department of Education until its official closure in 2010.
Named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, Lafayette High School is situated in what was formerly the town of Gravesend. All the towns in Kings County were settled by the Dutch with the exception of Gravesend, which was first settled by a colony of English people under the leadership of Lady Deborah Moody, a woman of considerable wealth and education, who took a prominent part in public affairs, and whose home was on Neck Road. According to the New York City Ward Map of Kings County in 1899, the school is located on the former property of John Carter. This map reveals a frame house with stables on the site of the building. The land was originally swampy, sandy soil covering about 10 acres (40,000 m2).
Lafayette High School, the first building of its type, was designed to accommodate about 4,000 pupils. The cost of the site was $211,350 while the building itself necessitated an outlay of $2,820,000. There are two other high schools in the city, which are duplicates of this type – Christopher Columbus and William Cullen Bryant. Dr. Frederick William Oswald was asked to assume the principalship of the new school. As the new building was not ready, the school had to meet in three annexes. These annexes were P.S. 180, with Mr. Joseph Grady in charge, assisted by Mr. Freilich and Mr. Abraham Margolies; P.S. 126, under the direction of Miss Dorothy K. Lewis and Mr. Robert Buda; and P.S. 192 with Mr. Walter Jacobsen in charge. On March 1939, the faculty had been increased to 156 members and the student population numbered some 4,500 boys and girls. On November 13, 1939, the formal exercises dedicating Lafayette High School took place in the auditorium. Among those present was Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia.
School activities early became an important part of life at Lafayette. On November 21, 1940, the first G.O. elections showed the following candidates victorious in the contest for school officers: Theodore Blinder, president; Gladys Deatsch, vice-president; Lillian Antin, secretary; Sabina La Salle, treasurer. Through the years principals, whether Mary Buda, Joseph Bellafiore, Leo Weitz, Irving I. Cohen, or Sheldon R. Friedberg 1986, recognized the importance of student activities and the Student Organization.
According to the New York City Department of Education, Lafayette's students speak at least 30 different languages. With the explosion of the Asian population, the school has been accused of harassment and unequal treatment based on race and ethnicity. After much complaints, Lafayette was the subject of a June 2004 consent decree between the New York City Department of Education and the United States Department of Justice which found evidence of "severe and pervasive peer-on-peer harassment of Asian students."Under the consent decree, Lafayette students needing help in English would be assigned appropriate classes within 10 days of enrolling (e.g., Mandarin-speaking students would not be placed in bilingual classes taught in Cantonese). Lafayette also pledged to develop a policy clarifying school officials' obligations to report cases of harassment based on race, color, and national origin, and to heighten diversity awareness among staff and students. The Justice Department was to monitor Lafayette's progress over the next three years.
In recent years Lafayette has experienced criminal activity involving their students. Extra police officers and security guards were added when the New York City Department of Education labeled it an "Impact School". After some improvement, in April 2006, Lafayette was removed from the Impact list. In December 2006, New York City's plans to close Lafayette High School were announced, along with four other low-performing schools that failed to improve under city guidance. Applying a strategy of the Bloomberg administration, the large closed schools would each be replaced by several small schools with about 400 or 500 students each.
Controversial Lafayette Principal Jolanta Rohloff stepped down on March 30, 2007 and was replaced by Doris Unger, to oversee the closing of the school, having previously overseen the closing of Seward Park High School. Principal Rohloff was praised by Department of Education officials for her work attempting to turn around the school, but criticized by the community, teachers, and students for heavy-handiness She was assigned by the Department of Education to mentor principals and teachers on how to interpret student performance data and make necessary adjustments to instruction. On September 15, 2008, a press release stated that Ms. Doris Unger had been promoted to Superintendent. On September 19, 2008, it was announced to the staff at Lafayette HS that the Assistant Principal, Jacqueline Boswell would be the new Principal.
In popular culture
Out of all high schools statewide, Lafayette has the most alumni (21) becoming baseball players.
- Tony Balsamo (Baseball)
- Herb Cohen (Author, Negotiator)
- Alex Coletti (Producer)
- Vic Damone (Singer)
- Benny Distefano (Baseball)
- Jerry Della Femina (Author, Restaurateur, Advertising Agent)
- Pete Falcone (Baseball)
- Al Ferrara (Baseball)
- Mike Fiore (Baseball)
- John Franco (Baseball)
- Gary David Goldberg (Producer/Sitcom creator)
- Larry King (Journalist)
- Sandy Koufax (Baseball)
- Richard LaGravenese (screenwriter)
- Michael Lerner (actor)
- Luis Lopez (Baseball)
- Norm Mager American basketball player
- Peter Max (born Peter Max Finkelstein; Artist)
- Larry Merchant (Sportswriter)
- Vickie Natale (Singer/Songwriter/CBS Star Search Champion)
- Eric Ober (President CBS News 1980s)
- Rochelle Owens (Poet/Playwright)
- Rhea Perlman (Actress) 
- Ruben Sanchez (High School Football Coach)
- Steve Schirripa (Actor/Author)
- Maurice Sendak (Artist)
- Paul Sorvino (Actor)
- Elliott Stein (Film critic and historian)
- Michael Steinhardt (Financier)
- Fred Wilpon (New York Mets Owner)
- Larry Yellen (Baseball)
- Gootman, Elissa (December 12, 2006). "Lafayette Among 5 High Schools to Close". The New York Times.
- "H.S. 400 Lafayette High School School Review". Insideschools.org. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- Education, DAVID ANDREATTA (March 29, 2007). "Lafayette Hs Principal Is Out". NY POST. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Lafayette (Brooklyn,NY) Baseball". The Baseball Cube. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
- "1964 Lafayette High Yearbook". classmates.com. Retrieved 29 July 2014.