School draws fire after billionaire Stephen Schwarzman allowed to add name

Last Updated Mar 29, 2018 4:02 PM EDT

ABINGTON, Pa. - When school officials in Abington, Pennsylvania, announced earlier this year that billionaire investor Stephen Schwarzman had agreed to donate $25 million to his former high school, they omitted one thing: His name would go on the door.

Abington Senior High School will be renamed Abington Schwarzman High School, the local school board announced this week. Schwarzman agreed to make the donation in exchange for naming rights, among other things.

While some on social media praised Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of private equity firm Blackstone Group (BX), others aren't too pleased. Said one person on Twitter: "Hearing from #Abington parents who are outraged the school board voted to change the name of Abington Senior HS to Abington Schwarzman HS in exchange for accepting $25 million donation from alumnus Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone."

Amy Sichel, superintendent of schools in Abington, said Schwarzman did not condition his donation on the school board allowing him to add his name to the high school. 

"He offered us the funds, and then we worked on an agreement," she said in an interview, noting that board directors voted unanimously to permit the name change. "There was discussion back and forth, but Mr. Schwarzman is not the kind of individual to draw a line in the sand and make demands. He did this because he's extremely committed to his alma mater and to making sure that this high school is state of the art."

A spokesperson for Blackstone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abington's school board said the move was part of a larger effort by Schwarzman to make public schools more open to private donations and to encourage other wealthy donors to support public education.

Abington previously named its sports stadium after Schwarzman for a previous financial contribution from him and other private donors.

Schwarzman's net worth is estimated at more than $12 billion, according to Forbes.