Evesham’s Teddy Bear Academy, a daycare center run by the Evesham School District, has been ordered to shut down. Judge Solomon Metzger ruled the school district did not have the legal right to run the Teddy Bear Academy, giving them 30 days to shut down, allowing parents time to find other daycare options. But, the 30 day shutdown period would not start until after the New Jersey Commissioner of Education weighs in. State law gives the New Jersey Commissioner of Education the authority to step in and make a final decision. Dr. Lamont Repollet, the Acting Commissioner of Education has 45 days to adopt, modify, or reject the court’s decision, otherwise the court’s decision becomes final. If he adopt’s the court’s ruling, then the 30 day shut-down would begin. Superintendent of Schools, John Scavelli sent parents a letter where he says, “the outcome is not yet determined, and we will continue to fight to keep Teddy Bear Academy open for as long as possible.”
The shutdown stems from a complaint filed by Under the Sun Learning Center of Marlton against the Evesham Township Board of Education. A 2014 petition filed with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education alleged the Board of Education did not have the authority to run a daycare, open to infants and non-residents of Evesham Township inside a school building. The district does run before and after-care for students, called the Evesham Child Care Program (ECC). The petitioners in the case don’t argue the district’s right to run the ECC, they state the Board of Education did not have the authority to create a competitor and run it inside a school building.
Evesham Township released the following statement, “The Mayor and Council of the Township of Evesham are aware of the recent Administrative Law Judge’s decision requiring the Evesham Township School District to cease operation of the Teddy Bear Academy. The Township has been in contact with the Evesham Township Board of Education and School District Administration to offer any assistance that may prevent cessation of this valuable service. Please be assured that the township will continue to work with the school district to explore any and all viable alternatives.”