A Jewish boarding school that closed without warning in June after years of financial decline will reopen for the 2020-2021 school year, its website states.
American Hebrew Academy (AHA), in Greensboro, North Carolina, is a pluralistic Jewish boarding school that was founded by Chico Sabbah, an insurance magnate and philanthropist, almost twenty years ago. After Sabbah was sued for committing insurance fraud in the early 2000s, the school lost its primary benefactor and source of funding. It had been steadily losing money until this year.
Now publicly available documents suggest that while the school still officially owns the property, a Chinese firm called Puxin has assumed financial liability for the school and has leased the campus, taking de facto control, according to Alan Myrick, Assistant Assessor for Real Property in Guilford County, where Greensboro is located.
“There’s something missing, in that the lease agreement is not here for review, so we don’t know whats going on exactly,” he told the Forward Friday. “But it does appear that Puxin Limited has gotten some lease fee ownership of the property.”
“They really have assumed de facto ownership through a long-term lease,” Myrick said of Puxin.
In June, Glenn Drew, the school’s CEO, announced AHA’s closure at a routine end-of-year staff meeting. Faculty and students scrambled to find new jobs and schools, with roughly two months to go before the start of this current school year.
Former staff told the Forward in June that Drew had been advocating to bring Chinese students to AHA, in order to offset the costs of running the academy and managing its 100-acre campus. Last year, they said, two Chinese students attended the school.
According to former AHA staff and students who notified the Forward about the reopening, no formal announcement was made, and they said they were made aware after visiting the website.
Drew, when reached by phone by the Forward, declined to comment.
Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman