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About LACS' History

In 1974, parents and teachers in Ithaca, New York, rallied support on the school board to create a junior high school that would provide students with an educational experience that would be empowering, relevant, and democratic. Dr. Dave Lehman was recruited to be the school's first principal. The result was the New Junior High Program (NJHP)  for grades 7-9,  which was housed in the old Markles Flats building on the corner of Court and Plain Streets in downtown Ithaca.  In 1977 the program was moved to Ithaca High School’s E-Wing, and in 1978 grades 10–12 were added.  In 1981, grade 6 was added and the school became the Alternative Community School (ACS). From its inception the school embraced democratic decision making with staff operating by consensus, students and staff participating in a one-person-one-vote weekly All School Meeting and parents and community members participating through the Site-Based Council. 
In 1983 ACS moved to its current location in the former West Hill Elementary School at 111 Chestnut St.  In 1987 the school joined the Coalition of Essential Schools a national secondary school reform movement initiated by Ted Sizer of Brown University.  The Coalition's Common Principles include "Less is More - Depth Over Coverage," "Student as Worker - Teacher as Coach," and "Demonstration of Mastery." LACS was instrumental in successfully advocating for a 10th Coalition Principle, "Democracy and Equity."  ACS’s participation in the Coalition of Essential Schools led it to develop its own unique set of high school graduation requirements and alternative means of evaluating student progress - Graduation By Exhibition.  GBE allowed the school to shift from "credits" and the New York State Regents Examinations to outcome-based based assessments through portfolios and performances of skills and knowledge. This work led LACS to be designated, in the fall of 1992, as one of the first "Compact Partnership Schools" under the Board of Regents and Commissioner's "New Compact for Learning."
Following the retirement of its founding Principal, Dave Lehman, and the school secretary, Judy Lehman in 2004, the school was renamed the Lehman Alternative Community School.  In 2010 the school district added an addition to the building and enrollment grew to 305 students with a wait list of over one hundred.  In 2016 the middle school component of LACS formally shifted from credits to Promotion By Exhibition and the school instituted a digital portfolio system called OxPort.  LACS is one of 28 public high schools in the New York Performance Standards Consortium that oversees waivers to the Regents Exams.  As part of the Consortium, LACS has added Performance Based Assessment Tasks (PBATs) in English, social studies, Math and science as additional graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2019.