Eddie Long's Academy Staff Cutting Plan Not Finalized, Spokesman Says

A spokesman for Bishop Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church told The Christian Post that it is still unclear whether or not the affiliated academy, which suddenly announced it was closing in late 2011, will be cutting its staff, as reported by a local news channel.

"New Birth Christian Academy aided by the management of the Aurora Schools is still conducting interviews," said Art Franklin, spokesman for New Birth, to CP on Thursday.

"They will do everything within their power to utilize as much of the previous faculty as possible."

Franklin added that if any reductions to the staff take place, it will be based "on the number of students enrolled" and at present they "don't have a final count as of yet."

Late last year, while students were on Christmas vacation, New Birth Christian Academy had made the sudden announcement that it was closing down immediately, even before the school year could be completed. The decision had left over 200 students without a school.

Although the academy said this was being done due to decreased enrollment and donations, some were skeptical, believing the decision had to do with the many scandals attached to Bishop Eddie Long and his ministry.

But on Sunday, Jan. 15, New Birth announced that the academy would be reopening this week. The reason for this revival of the academy was due to an agreement reached with the Aurora Day School, which has multiple campuses in Georgia.

Although Franklin said the staff cuts were not confirmed, one former teacher from the academy told Georgia's WSB TV Channel 2 that she was a casualty of their planned "restructuring" of the school.

"It felt like we were just pawns in this whole situation," said the teacher to Eric Philips of WSB. "The way we were dismissed and treated, it was like you were nothing."

The "Last Straw"

While academy officials have denied any connection between the school's problem and the issues surrounding Bishop Eddie Long, others have been skeptical.

"I don't believe that. I believe that this last straw with the divorce, the sealed settlement, it just does not look good," said one parent of a child formerly enrolled at the academy to local media.

Over the past couple of years, Long has been embroiled in several scandals. In September 2010, four young men filed lawsuits against Long over allegations of sexual misconduct. Then in May, they announced that they had reached an out-of-court settlement. A fifth young man, unaffiliated with Long's church, also sued him for similar allegations and also reportedly received settlement money.

Besides the sex scandals, Long has also been plagued by money scandals, as New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was one of six megachurch ministries investigated by Sen. Charles Grassley. At the conclusion of Grassley's investigation in January 2011, he noted that New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was uncooperative with the probe into financial accountability.

According to remarks made at a press conference held Wednesday, New Birth Christian Academy has no plans to increase tuition or to change the school's official mission statement.