Nobel Learning Communities Inc., West Chester, said today that it has agreed to be purchased by a private equity firm for $149 million.

Nobel stockholders will receive $11.75 per share in cash, or about 36 percent more than the stock's closing price on Tuesday. The shares were up $2.84 to $11.48 in early afternoon trading today.

The company operates 190 private schools at the prekindergarten, elementary and middle school levels in 15 states and Washington, D.C. As of September, it had 4,700 employees.

The buyer is Leeds Equity Partners, a New York firm that invests in the education, training and information services industries.

Nobel said the deal is expected to close within six months.    -Paul Schweizer