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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

D-Day for University Heights Secondary School

University Heights Secondary School is currently located in this building on BCC's campus.  (File photo by R. Thomas)

In December, Bronx Community College asked University Heights Secondary School to vacate the building it occupies on the college’s campus by the end of the school year.

The Department of Education has since proposed moving the school to Morrisania, where it would take over a section of South Bronx High School.

Tonight, at a meeting in Staten Island, the city's Panel for Educational Policy will vote on whether to approve the relocation.

Students, parents and teachers at the school have been critical of the move. They happen to like the current location, and the school’s grades are among the best in the west Bronx.

“Coming here is not like any regular school,” Paola Pimentel, a senior, previously told the Mount Hope Monitor. “Once you walk into campus, it feels like a different atmosphere. There are no metal detectors; there are trees. It’s like coming to a second home.”

Teachers and parents worry that Morrisania neighborhood isn’t safe, and point out that students, most of whom live in the west Bronx, would be forced to take buses or the subway to get there. They worry that students’ grades will dip, and instead of being a success story, University Heights Secondary School will be anything but.

At rallies and public hearings, the school community has made its feelings clear, but the DOE continues to the believe that moving the school into the South Bronx High School is the best option.

One local developer disagrees. Frank DeLeonardis, the owner of the new – and currently unrented - four-story building on Jerome Avenue at East 179th Street, would welcome the school as a tenant. Recently he gave principal Hazel Joseph Roseboro a tour and said she was impressed. (Speaking today, Roseboro said she couldn’t comment, citing DOE protocol.)

DeLeonardis says the building would be perfect for a school because it’s close public transportation, and is “unfinished” inside, which would allow the DOE to customize it. Plus, it's less than a mile from BCC.

Greg Faulkner, Fernando Cabrera’s chief-of-staff, said he sees DeLeonardis’ building as a “viable alternative,” but that the DOE hasn’t been willing to listen to alternatives or involve the community in the decision process. “I’m really disappointed, but it’s typical of the DOE,” he said.

Only rarely does the Panel for Educational Policy go against the DOE recommendations. “I feel like it is a done deal,” Faulkner said.

Tonight’s meeting is being held at the Michael J. Petrides School at 715 Ocean Terrace. It starts at 6 p.m.

UPDATE - 3:30 p.m.: Faulkner called back to say that he just reached out to DOE asking them to postpone tonight's vote, so that the possibility of moving the school into DeLeonardis' building could be further investigated.  They declined, but said even if the Panel approved the relocation, other feasible alternatives would still be considered if bought to the table at a later date.  We'll call the department's press office for more information.


  1. This past Monday night BronxTalk featured a show with a teacher and parent from UHHS. Next Monday night at 9pm, BCC is scheduled to join us.

    BronxTalk is seen on cablevision channel 67 each day at 9:30am, 3:30pm, and 9pm. Shortly the link to the show about UHHS will be available and we'll provide it to the BNN for posting.

  2. This sucks, In the past few months that I have attended this school I have grown to love it the teachers are wonderful and with the small population its easy to make friends, Unlike other schools where you can't recognize a face in Uhhs you see many of the same people which makes it easier to feel stable. Not once in my schooling have I had a school move and to be honest the thought of it makes me queasy as if your home away from home is being uprooted and just having to start over at a knew school brings tears to my eyes,when I say start over I mean that yes I will transfer there's no way I could move along with the school because
    1) where its heading is so far away and

    2)almost everyone I've grown to care about will be gone.

  3. As a graduate from this wonderful school that took me in when i had no school, I wonder where I would be now. Im 37 and have a wounderful family and home because of there lessons on life, love and education. People say that money is the route of all evil and thats what they are doing to these young adult to be. I can not except that these events are happening at a school that gives hope and compassion to people who wish to brighten there future. All i can say to our future doctor, lawyers, or present (who knows), Do not give up with out a fight. In our darkest time we are the light.


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