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N.Y.C. School System to Evict Famed Boys Choir of Harlem

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The world-renowned Boys Choir of Harlem, struggling under millions of dollars in debt and allegations that its founder ignored reports of sexual abuse, is being evicted by the New York City schools.

The choir has been asked to leave the public school where it practices for free by Jan. 31. The Boys Choir also provided some instruction at the school, called the Choir Academy of Harlem, as part of a 12-year collaboration with the city’s education department.

Department lawyer Michael Best said in a Dec. 22 letter that the choir failed to fulfill a 2004 agreement to find a new chief executive to replace founder Walter Turnbull. Mr. Turnbull was demoted to artistic director after an investigation concluded he did not act on reports that an employee was sexually abusing a student.

Mr. Turnbull has continued to run the organization, the lawyer said.

The department also said the choir staff failed to report to the school when expected, apparently because the staff was not being paid due to the choir’s financial problems.

Last January, the Boys Choir asked the department for $705,000. It said it had debts of up to $5 million and anticipated a deficit of hundreds of thousands of dollars that fiscal year. The department, which had not previously funded the Boys Choir, refused.

Mr. Turnbull said the Boys Choir would find a new home.

Vol. 25, Issue 16, Page 5

Published in Print: January 4, 2006, as N.Y.C. School System to Evict Famed Boys Choir of Harlem

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