"We understand persecution, and you just push forward through every obstacle," said Khan, who declined to explain the church's decision to stop fighting the eviction. "We're not going away. Our church is about to celebrate 20 years in ministry and we're going stronger than ever before."
What impact the move could have on Khan's charter ambition is unclear. Khan said he still planned to open Regis, which would be a secular public institution, in time for the coming school year. He declined to say where it would be.
A New Jersey Department of Education spokesman said Thursday that Regis planned to locate in the former Living Faith Christian Academy on the Cooper River in Cherry Hill and that state officials had recently inspected the facility.
"I want to be careful. I can't comment on that," Khan said when asked about the property.
A person who answered the phone at Living Faith Ministries in Pennsauken, which owns the closed academy, declined to comment.
Khan's move to establish a charter school in Cherry Hill, one of New Jersey's highest-performing districts, drew fierce protest from residents and from local school districts, which argue that the per-pupil state funds it would divert from their budgets would force program cuts and larger class sizes.
Two of the districts from which Regis would draw - Cherry Hill and Voorhees - have challenged the preliminary approval of Khan's charter application by the Department of Education, claiming Solid Rock's battle with the Diocese of Camden over the three-acre former Holy Rosary campus meant that Regis' students might not have a place to go when the charter was set to open.
Acting State Education Commissioner Chris Cerf has not ruled on that legal challenge. He has until July 15 to give final approvals to the 33 charters statewide that hope to open at the start of the school year.
Cherry Hill schools spokeswoman Susan Bastnagel said the district would continue its legal fight against Regis.
"Our concerns about the educational need for the charter school in our community remain, especially since so few Cherry Hill families appear to have chosen [Regis] as an option," she said in an e-mail.
Enrollment data for Regis provided by the Cherry Hill district showed students coming from 33 districts, with the largest contingents coming from Lawnside and Lindenwold.
Solid Rock's decision to move is a blow to Khan, who in recent months had said that Regis' opening would be on schedule.
In an interview two weeks ago, he expressed confidence he could come to an agreement with the diocese, which filed suit against Solid Rock last year saying it had failed to meet terms of a lease-to-own real estate deal.
Khan said he had credit lined up to buy the Evesham Road property for $2.9 million, an assertion he repeated Thursday. Enrollment had "snowballed" since late May and the school would meet its goal of opening with 250 students, he said.
"It shows there are people interested in what we're offering," he said two weeks ago. "Absolutely, we're going to be ready for these students."
Among Khan's opponents in Cherry Hill, news of Solid Rock's pending move was met with interest but no sign they would let up in the fight to stop Regis.
Speak Up South Jersey, a citizens' group that opposes Regis' opening, amassed more than 2,400 signatures on a petition urging Cerf to block the school's charter.
"They're being evicted. What does that tell you?" said Rita McClellan, a leader of the group.
But Thursday, Khan remained upbeat, saying he was on vacation with his wife and trying to relax ahead of the state's decision about whether the charter could open in two months' time.
"Like everyone else, we just have to sit and wait," he said.
Contact James Osborne
at 856-779-3876 or firstname.lastname@example.org .