Premiere of A&E docuseries ‘Undercover High’ about Highland Park postponed indefinitely

Crews working for Learning Tree Productions, of New York, filmed in and around Highland Park during the spring semester for a docuseries. (May 2017 file photo/The Capital-Journal)

The premiere of the A&E docuseries “Undercover High” has been indefinitely postponed, a spokeswoman for Topeka Unified School District 501 said Wednesday.

 

“We have been notified by A&E Networks that due to post-production and scheduling changes, the docuseries that was filmed at Highland Park High School, ‘Undercover High,’ will no longer premiere on Tuesday, October 10th,” USD 501 spokeswoman Misty Kruger said. “The network is currently exploring options for a new date that will allow the show its best possible platform during a time when we can foster a national conversation about public education.”

Kruger made the announcement Wednesday morning while meeting with members of the media.

“It’s a scheduling move and we’re waiting on a new air date,” said Jaime Yandolino, a spokeswoman for A&E. “It’s very common. It’s not really a huge deal.”

Yandolino echoed Kruger’s comments about giving the series “its best possible platform.” She said A&E has postponed other show premieres within days of their scheduled start dates but couldn’t immediately provide examples. She didn’t specify how long the network had been talking about postponing the premiere of “Undercover High,” but the decision became official Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Lucky8 Productions hadn’t responded to requests for comment as of Wednesday night.

The docuseries was shot on location at Highland Park High School in East Topeka this past spring. The first of 12 episodes for the series was set to air at 9 p.m. Oct. 10.

A&E described the program as “a gripping new docuseries” that follows seven people who embedded themselves for a semester at Highland Park, including “a former bully, victims of bullying, a teen mom, a youth motivational speaker, a set of siblings and a teen minister.”

As of early Wednesday afternoon, A&E’s website still listed the premiere of “Undercover High” as scheduled for Oct. 10.

“According to Ms. Kruger, she shared that changing and postponing schedules and looking at timing, particularly with all that’s going on nationally is not an unusual thing that occurs with television shows,” said Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of USD 501.

“I have not been involved with television shows before as it relates to a docuseries. For me, the reaction was more, for me, focused on, like any project, if it is postponed, that’s OK. It doesn’t impact the work that we do in the school system on a day-to-day basis.”

Kruger later provided information indicating Anderson was contacted by Greg Henry, an executive producer for Lucky8 Productions, about the series’ postponement. The New York-based production house oversees operations for Learning Tree Productions, which hired freelance film crews for the project.

A national discussion on equity in public education was scheduled to take place Monday following a screening of the premiere at the Topeka Performing Arts Center. The event was to take place as part of the district’s ongoing equity council discussions but has been postponed.

According to USD 501, the event at TPAC was to include a panel discussion with David Johns, former head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House, and Joshua DuBois, former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Anderson said Johns and DuBois were invited by A&E, not USD 501, for the national discussion. She said the district’s equity discussions will continue, regardless of when the docuseries is rescheduled.

Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or @AngelaDeines on Twitter.

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‘Undercover High,’ A&E docuseries about Highland Park High School, to air Oct. 10
 

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