Early History

The Lehman Alternative Community School opened in September of 1974 as the "New Junior High Program," an alternative junior high school, grades seven through twelve, with 65 students and four full-time and five part-time staff. NJHP was created by the Board of Education in following one of a series of recommendations made to the Superintendent of Schools and School Board of the Ithaca City School District by the blue-ribbon "Alternative Education Committee." The school was housed in the former gas and electric company building, on the corner of Court and Plain Streets, owned by the School District and formerly used to house the District's Central Administration offices. The program was given an initial three-year trial period, during which time outside evaluations were done by a participant observation team from the School of Human Ecology of Cornell University, Dr. Robert King of the New York State Education Department, and Dr. Eric Gardner of Syracuse University and the Stanford Achievement Testing program.

Having successfully met the three year trial period, NJHP was out-growing its space and was moved to the E-building wing of Ithaca High School in September of 1978. The program continued to expand, and after a year-long study in 1978-79 by another District "Alternative Education Committee," a recommendation to create an alternative high school was approved by the Superintendent and Board of Education, and thus NJHP was expanded in September of 1979 to include the "Alternative Community High School," grades nine through twelve (with the sixth grade being added to the seventh and eighth to create a "middle school"). ACS quickly became pronounced "Ox" for short, and thus our mascot was created.

The school continued to expand and again to out-grow its space, and thus, in September of 1983 moved into the former West Hill Elementary School on Chestnut Street. The population continued to expand until reaching its current limit of 260 students in a building which is again over-crowded with more than 200 students on the "waiting list."

Coalition of Essential Schools

In the spring of 1987, ACS joined the Coalition of Essential Schools, a national secondary school reform movement initiated by Dr. Ted Sizer of Brown University. This led to ACS developing its own unique set of high school graduation requirements and alternative means of evaluating students progress toward school those requirements, moving completely away from the old high "credit system" and New York State Regents Exams. This work led ACS to be designated, in the fall of 1992, as one of the first fourteen "Compact Partnership Schools" under the Board of Regents and Commissioner's "New Compact for Learning," a document calling for major reforms in education for the state of New York.

Dave Lehman

Dave Lehman, a founding member and principal of the school from its inception, retired in 2004. In the summer of 2004, the school was named for Lehman, and is now known as the Lehman Alternative Community School, aka, LACS.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 March 2011 )
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