EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP — A local charter school is undergoing a name change this year after parting ways with its curriculum provider and multiple lawsuits.
International Academy of Atlantic City Charter School, located in the Cardiff Power Center on the Black Horse Pike, has applied to the state Department of Education to change its name to Principle Academy Charter School, school Board of Trustees Chairman Peter Caporilli said last week. He said the school will now use the curriculum from American Reading Co. instead of SABIS.
Caporilli said he could not comment on the litigation but did say one of the suits was the reason for the change in name.
According to court records, two civil lawsuits were filed against International Academy of Atlantic City last month, one by SABIS Educational Systems and another by former school chief Natakie Chestnut. Attorneys for Chestnut and SABIS did not respond to requests for comment.
Chestnut’s suit against the school, filed June 29 in Atlantic County Superior Court, is labeled as a whistleblower case and alleges retaliation, wrongful termination and defamation against both SABIS employees and the International Academy trustees.
The lawsuit initiated by SABIS against the board of trustees alleges a violation of the Open Public Records Act.
A third civil suit was filed in Superior Court by International Academy of Atlantic City against SABIS on June 22 but moved to federal court in Camden. That suit alleges breach of contract, negligence and fraud. Attorney Louis Niedelman, of Cooper Levenson in Atlantic City, said an amended version of the complaint will be filed soon.
Earlier this month, parents received an automated voicemail from the school stating a scam was going around about the school closing. The voicemail, shared with The Press of Atlantic City, said a scam caller was “out there misrepresenting themselves and the school,” that the school is not closing and “we are in great financial shape.”
Caporilli said the school is investigating the origins of the scam.
Caporilli said that despite the name and curriculum changes, Principle Academy is at capacity in nearly every grade and plans to have those classes filled before school starts in September.
“We are very excited about this change. Our goal is to make every student college ready,” he said.
The school opened in 2015 and serves about 450 students from throughout the region in grades kindergarten through six, with hopes to expand into a K-12 school. Caporilli said this year the school’s charter will be up for renewal from the state, a process that takes place every five years.
In addition, the charter school is expected to appoint a new school chief at an upcoming meeting. The current interim school chief is Carol Spina.
The board meets next at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the school, 6718 Black Horse Pike, Suite 16. The district’s new website is principleacademycharter.org.