Like Dangerous Minds (1995) 28 years later, this movie was filmed in a real-life urban high school building, using real high school kids from the neighborhood as extras, many of whom were believed to be armed on the set.
Film debut of Bud Cort, in an uncredited walk-on role as a student. He is seen at the tail end of the film, chewing gum and tossing a book in the air as he passes by Sandy Dennis in the school hallway.
Puerto Rican author Esmeralda Santiago has a small role as a student, this was her film debut and her only film role. Her experiences from working on the film are highlighted in her book "Almost a Woman" (see also: Almost a Woman (2002)).