A school affiliated with Bishop Eddie Long’s Georgia megachurch is shutting down. Parents received letters, just two days before Christmas, telling them the school would close on January 4th.
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New Birth Christian Academy, which enrolls students in kindergarten through the 12th grade, has been struggling financially for years, officials said. A financial deficit and declining enrollment left its board of directors with no other option but to temporarily close the school, said a church statement.
Art Franklin, a spokesman for New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, is keen to stress the school’s closure is not linked to the sexual allegations against Bishop Eddie Long, which culminated in the pastor taking a sabbatical to “tend to family business” after his wife filed for divorce.
Though, a parent, speaking to Channel 2 WSB-TV, begs to differ. “I don’t believe that,” she said in the interview, which did not disclose her identity. “I believe that this last straw with the divorce, the sealed settlement, it just does not look good. I really believe that people continued to take their children out as each allegation unfolded month after month.”
“Just like the parishioners have suffered, the children are now suffering,” said the parent, who is also upset the school gave such short notice.
Officials called the closing a business decision and said they “will do everything within our power to reopen the school at some point in the near future.” The letter also stated the staff at New Birth will help students and parents find a new school.
The academy, founded by Bishop Eddie Long and located within the church, is closing after 18 years, forcing parents of more than 200 students to scramble to find new schools by next week.
Tuition at the school ranged from $5,725 for New Birth members to just over $6,000 for non-members with more than $1,000 in non-refundable fees, according to the academy’s website.