The High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice was founded in 1981 by Dr. Judy Morris. The institution was originally designed to serve students interested in law enforcement careers and to encourage recruitment of more minorities to the police force. Over the past three and a half decades, however, the scope of the school’s mission has expanded. It now focuses on law and justice careers more broadly, with electives covering civil and criminal litigation in addition to law enforcement. To reflect this wider focus, the HISD Board of Education voted to change the school’s name to “High School for Law and Justice” as of the 2016-2017 school year. The renaming preceded the 2018 opening of the school’s new campus on Scott St., between Coyle and Pease, which was constructed with funds from the 2012 bond initiative. The new campus has its own law library and courtroom.
As a magnet school within HISD, HSLJ has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student’s record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
For the 2018-2019 school year, HSLJ moved to a new campus constructed with funds from the 2012 bond initiative. The new campus is located on Scott St. near Interstate 45, just east of downtown. The new location is conveniently located near the South Central police station, which facilitates the school’s partnership with the Houston Police Department and allow students easier access to HPD resources. The campus’s 100,000+ square foot main building includes, among other features, a law library and a courtroom.
The High School for Law and Justice is a dedicated magnet school, meaning that it has no attendance zone – all prospective students must complete the magnet application process.
HSLJ is open to all students residing in the HISD zone. Students can apply to a total of five (5) Magnet Programs; applications may be submitted online or on paper, and additional materials can be sent to the school by mail.
HISD residents should apply during the Phase 1 application window, which lasts from late September until early December for the subsequent school year, and admitted students are notified by late March.
Additional application materials consist of the following:
- Previous year’s final report card
- The report card from the first grading period of the current year
- The student’s STAAR and Stanford scores, and
- Proof of HISD residency.
Current HISD students may not need to submit additional documentation.
Any student who lives within the HISD zone and who meets a baseline academic and behavioral standard – as determined by the student’s seventh grade scores, grades, and track record – is eligible to apply.
Admission is based on the lottery system. Students who have siblings already attending the school are given priority for up to 25% of the incoming freshman class, but otherwise, all students have an equal chance of admission.
Students are not required to take an entrance examination to be eligible for admission. While neither interviews nor school visits are required for the admissions process, school tours may be available upon request, and students and families can learn more about the program at one of HISD’s magnet open house events.
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All students at HSLJ participate in the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice magnet program. In this program, students take specialized electives on topics pertaining to government, law, and justice, and they may have access to internship and out-of-classroom study opportunities with local businesses and the Houston Police Department. Magnet electives include Legal Studies, Public Service, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Security Services, Pre-Employment Lab, Fundamentals of Criminal Law, Criminal Investigation, Business Computer Information Systems/ Legal Administrative Services, Law Enforcement, Civil Litigations, Legal Research, and Court and Criminal Procedures.
Within its magnet program, HSLJ offers two tracks – On-Track and AP. Dual Enrollment classes (made available in partnership with Houston Community College) are also available to supplement either track. Pre-AP classes lead to 24 classes from the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) curriculum. HSLECJ offers the following AP courses: AP Art History, AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, AP Comparative Government, AP English Language, AP English Literature, AP Environmental Science, AP European History, AP Geography, AP Macroeconomics, AP Microeconomics, AP Physics A, AP Physics B, AP Physics C, AP Psychology, AP Spanish Language, AP Spanish Literature, AP Statistics, AP Studio Art, AP US Government, AP US History, and AP World History.
Students now matriculating will graduate under the new Foundation High School Program. The basic requirements are as follows: four credits of English, three credits of math, three credits of science, four credits of social studies, one credit of PE, one-half credit of Health, two credits of the same language (other than English), one credit of fine arts, and three and one-half credits of electives, for a total of 22 credits.
Most students who graduate under the Foundation High School Program will take one or more “endorsements” in addition to the basic curricular requirements. An endorsement is essentially the high school equivalent of a college major. Students who take an endorsement must complete 26 credits, including a fourth credit each of math and science and any additional credits needed to fulfill the endorsement’s curricular requirements.
There are five possible endorsements: STEM, Business and Industry, Public Services, Arts and Humanities, and Multidisciplinary. HSLJ offers all five.
- To earn an endorsement in STEM, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses from CTE courses within the STEM cluster, computer science, math, science, or any two of these four.
- To earn an endorsement in Business and Industry, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses from a focus area in CTE, or English electives, or technology applications, or a combination of any of these three.
- To earn an endorsement in Public Services, a student must complete elective credits in JROTC or a coherent sequence of courses from the CTE focus areas in Education & Training; Government & Public Administration; Health Science; Human Services; or Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security.
- To earn an endorsement in Arts and Humanities, a student must complete a coherent sequence of courses in social studies, a language other than English, two levels in two languages other than English, ASL, the fine arts, or English electives not counted under Business & Industry.
- To earn an endorsement in Multidisciplinary, a student must complete a coherent sequence of four courses related to preparation for entering the workforce; or one advanced course in each of the four core areas; or four AP, IB, or dual credit courses from the core areas, economics, languages other than English, or the fine arts.
A student who qualifies for at least one endorsement also qualifies for the Distinguished Level of Achievement supplementary endorsement, which is a necessary prerequisite for in-state college admission under the top 10% rule. Students may also earn Performance Acknowledgements for noteworthy career-focused or academic achievements, including qualifying scores on AP and IB exams and the PSAT, SAT, and ACT.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
The High School for Law and Justice offers Spanish through the AP level, with both AP Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature available for eligible students. At least two credits of Spanish are required for graduation.
HSLJ offers classes in theater arts and visual arts, including advanced classes in both. Visual arts offerings include AP Art History and AP Studio Art.
The High School for Law and Justice has a one-to-one laptop program through HISD’s PowerUp Initiative. The school issues a laptop to each student, contingent upon the signing of a laptop agreement. Laptops are used for some classroom activities and can also be used at home for schoolwork and other purposes. On campus, students also have access to desktop PC computers in the library.
Student cell phones, on the other hand, are to be turned off and kept out of sight at all times while on campus. If a teacher sees or hears a student’s phone, it may be confiscated, and fines may be incurred.
The High School for Law and Justice hosts a wide variety of student organizations. Some are related to the school’s magnet focus; these include Debate Team, Ladies & Men of Justice, National Latino Peace Officer Association, Law Enforcement Explorers, Students Against Drugs, and Teen Court.
Other offerings include Alma Latina, Archery Club, Business Professionals of America, Chess Club, Dance Team, GIS Club, GSA, JROTC, Literary Magazine Club, Name That Book, Newspaper Club, and Youth and Government.
The school also has a Student Council and hosts a chapter of the National Honor Society.
HSLJ competes interscholastically in soccer and cheerleading, both of which are offered for girls and boys.
The school’s PSTA coordinates fundraisers and parent volunteering. In order to volunteer through the PSTA, parents must first undergo training through HISD’s VIPS (Volunteers in Public Schools) program.
The school also has a Shared Decision Making Committee, through which interested parents can join with teachers and community members to advise the principal on important administrative matters.
Parents of JROTC cadets can also become involved through the JROTC Parents Club.