Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Christian Academy students got a horrible Christmas message: the school is shutting down immediately and indefinitely, sending 200 irate children’s parents scrambling to find scholastic alternatives for the new year.
Long notified parents in a letter dated Dec. 22 and signed by the board’s vice-chairman, Carlton Donald, that funding and low enrollment “are the main issues” for the school’s “temporary closing,” although many wonder if the academy will ever open its doors again.
The academy’s eventual resuscitation is particularly questionable since, according to Donald, “We have operated New Birth Christian Academy for several years with substantial deficits in hopes that the national economic climate would change, however, that change never materialized,” Donald said in a letter. “Funding estimates fall far short of our projected needs. It is a very sad occasion, as the NBCA board has made the tough decision to temporarily close the school.”
This is despite the fact that tuition at the pre-K-12 school ranged from $5,253 for New Birth members to $6,198 for non-members with more than $1,000 in non-refundable fees.
Donald pledging that the academy’s staff will assist in helping students find new schools, was not sufficient enough for prevent parents from airing their outrage at the timing of the announcement. One parent many have spoke for some of the others when he said: “It’s almost like they purposely waited for the holiday before they sent out this letter. I mean, a letter (that says) my daughter basically does not have a school to go to on January 4.”
Housed within Long’s goliath New Birth Missionary Baptist Church campus in suburban Atlanta, the unidentified parent also believes that the abrupt closing is resulting from Long’s rather long assortment of infidelities and improprieties. Long, of course, settled out of court with four male accusers who sued him for sexual coercion, and he is being sued for encouraging members to enter into a dubious business deal that has wiped out many members’ life savings. To top it off, many of the flock have performed a mass exodus out of the church, in the same direction as Long’s wife Vanessa, who filed for divorce.
“I believe that this last straw with the divorce, the sealed settlement, it just does not look good,” said the parent.
Predictably, the spokesperson for New Birth denies that the closing is in any way related to Long’s legal and personal entanglements.
— terry shropshire