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Deal offered to save Harlem Boys Choir from eviction

Choir would stay as after-school activity

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Members of the Boys Choir of Harlem appear as part of a chorus.

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New York
Department of Education
Boys Choir of Harlem

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York's public school system has offered a deal to the historic Boys Choir of Harlem to save the beleaguered institution from eviction while it grapples with a $5 million cash shortfall.

The choir, which has performed before large audiences around the world, recently was told to leave the Harlem public school it has called home for the last 12 years for failing to address financial and managerial problems.

The deal would allow it to continue as an after-school activity.

The problems arose after choir director Walter Turnbull failed to fire an employee who sexually abused a student and did not report the abuse to authorities.

The choir, which has an estimated $5 million deficit and has had trouble raising funds because of the scandal, had been told to leave the school by January 31. The New York Department of Education had demanded the choir install new leadership, but Turnbull has remained at the helm with a new title.

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 Department of Education.

New York Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott said that although the city would allow the choir to remain as an after-school activity, it must establish its administrative offices outside the school and repair its managerial and financial structure on its own.

Turnbull founded the Boys Choir of Harlem in 1975, and it has since grown into a full-fledged specialty school of more than 600 boys and girls in grades 4 through 12. The city has provided the academic curriculum for the school, while the choir program has provided the musical training.

Fewer than 125 students perform in the choir, which travels the world giving performances before an estimated 150,000 people a year, according to its Web site. Its most recent tour took the group to Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, and ended with a performance at The Metropolitan Club in New York.

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