Lehigh Valley

Proposed arts charter academy gets further scrutiny from Allentown School District

School board is taking a second look at how the charter school gained its pre-enrollment numbers

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The Allentown School District School Board is looking into a revised application submitted by a proposed charter school, according to its solicitor.

According to attorney John Freund, the board could vote as early this month on whether or not to approve the materials submitted by Dr. Thomas Lubben's Arts Academy.

The board rejected previous plans back in January in a 5-4 vote, saying there wasn't enough community support.

According to Lubben, that's when the charter school hired recruiters as part of its plan to meet the board's demands.

Abe Atiyeh owns the property where the charter school is looking to open.

According to Atiyeh, the consultants were "paid professionals," hired to help the charter school get students pre-enrolled, and therefore help with the school's application process.

Atiyeh said the consultants were paid a flat rate per enrollment.

Freund said the district is now reviewing how the charter school was able to drum up what he called a significant jump in pre-enrollment numbers.

Freund said the school board is "entitled to inquire into the trustworthiness of that evidence."

Atiyeh says hiring consultants to help with enrollment is a normal business practice.

Freund said he is still looking into the matter, and he will advise the board on the results once his investigation is complete. He said the board will take those findings into consideration when voting on the revised application.

Last month, Dr. Lubben told 69 News that the board had ignored his subsequent efforts to appeal the January decision and he was turning to the state Charter Appeal Board (CAB) for help.

Lubben now tells 69 News that if the school board approves the charter's application this month, the appeal will be dropped.

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