Central High School, originally called Paterson High School, was started in 1909. The first principal was Dr. J. A. Rhinehardt who after his retirement was succeed by Mr. F. North in 1915. Besides the sudents from Paterson, Central had two-thousand nonresident students, coming from Hawthorne, Towtowa, Little Falls, West Paterson, and Pompton Lakes. This left Central with an enrollment of seven thousand in 1921. To solve this over crowding problem the school was divided into two sessions with two distinct administrative and instructional staff. The Boys High School had classes from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and the Girls High School had their classes from 1:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. With the opening of Eastside High School in 1925, Paterson High School was renamed to Central High School. About the same time high schools were also built in Hawthorne, Passaic Valley, and Pompton Plains. This decreased the enrollment to three thousand seven hundred.

When Kennedy High School was built Central HS was renamed the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School and was used until the current Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School was built at which time the building was sold to the county who now use it as the Department of social services.