Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School

Despite concerns about its operations and close affiliation with a city church, the Allentown School Board has renewed a five-year agreement with the Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School.

But that renewal came with a warning from school board members that the school must be more transparent with the district and adhere to the existing charter, which board members say has not occurred in the last year.

"It's a partnership, and this partnership has to be 50-50, and it has to be trust 50-50, and we have to work together 50-50," board President Robert Smith Jr. said during a meeting Thursday.

"There have been issues that haven't worked out 50-50, and that's got to stop," Smith said of the 1414 East Cedar St. school.

Among the largest concerns are charter school's close affiliation with Lifechurch, an Allentown church at 1401 E. Cedar St., with whom Lincoln Leadership is seeking to buy or rent additional space.

Smith said there is concern that Lifechurch families are getting preferential treatment when it comes to choosing prospective students, even choosing non-Allentown residents from the church over city children seeking to apply.

That prompted board member David F. Zimmerman to cast the sole dissenting vote against the charter agreement Thursday.

"The ties with Lifechurch seem just a little too close," he said. "Lincoln Leadership Academy reminds me a little too much of a private school. My concern is if our funds are being diverted for students not really part of the Allentown School District."

Additionally, the charter school added two modular expansions to the building without consulting the Allentown School Board, and brought on additional students beyond its 320-student cap, Smith said...

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