The students of the American Boychoir School in New Jersey have sung for presidents and the pope; collaborated with Beyoncé, Yo-Yo Ma and Wynton Marsalis; and even inspired a movie starring Dustin Hoffman. But amid rocky finances, shrinking attendance and the lingering effects of a sexual abuse scandal, the 80-year-old school announced on Wednesday that it would close its doors.
“ABS does not have the cash it needs to open the school and cannot reasonably anticipate revenues that would allow it to finish the school year if it did open,” Rob D’Avanzo, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees, wrote in a statement addressed to the school’s community.
Made up of students in fourth through eighth grades, the American Boychoir performed more than 100 concerts a year around the world. Mr. D’Avanzo wrote that attendance for the 2017-18 school year had dropped to about 20 students, from the usual 30 to 40. “We are stunned that our enrollment was not what we had anticipated it would be,” he wrote.
In 2002, The New York Times published an article detailing a decades-long pattern of sexual abuse by staff members at the school. Lawsuits were filed by former students, which led to settlements and a state bill that made it easier for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue institutions.
For the last few years, the school has struggled financially, and it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015. It stayed afloat through donations and a location change, but the loss of tuition proved too much to overcome. The school did not return a request for comment.
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