PROBE: Is NYC Public School Favoring Asians Over Blacks and Hispanics?

The Shuang Wen Academy, located in Manhattan’s District 1 in the Lower East Side, has been in turmoil since 2010, when controversy arose over after-school tuition fees and more. Of special interest to us were allegations of violations in its school lottery procedures, which favored Asian children over those residing in the school’s home district, the overwhelming majority of whom are black and Hispanic. Despite the demographics of District 1, the Shuang Wen Academy’s student body is 80% Asian.

The Department of Education has launched dozens of investigations into various aspects of the school’s administration, and while many of these investigations have concluded with damning evidence of dishonest administration practices, the DOE has yet to release any findings regarding allegations of racial discrimination against the black and Hispanic children living in District 1.

We wrote to schools Chancellor Joel Klein and his successor Cathy Black, inquiring about the status of the ongoing probes into the Shuang Wen Academy – without response. Read our latest inquiry appended below:

 

June 28, 2012

Dear Chancellor Walcott:

I write to you concerning the allegations that officials of the Shuang Wen Academy--a self-styled “dual language” public school–manipulated admissions practices and violated Department of Education/Districting and lottery policies so as to favor Chinese students and to discriminate against black and Hispanic children. It is our understanding that black and Hispanic children constitute the overwhelming majority of school children in District 1. Yet Shuang Wen Academy’s student body has been 80% Asian. About this complaint, I wrote to Chancellor Joel Klein, who then left office, and then, on January 12, 2011 to his successor, Cathie Black (see below), asking Chancellor Black to apprise us once the probes were completed and a report available on these very serious allegations of discriminatory admissions. Perhaps because of the brief tenure of Chancellor Black and the transition from Ms. Black to you our request fell through the cracks. So, I now renew our request with you that we be apprised of the results of the Department’s investigation into this school’s admission practices.

By following news reports I know of the Special Commissioner of Schools Investigations’ conclusion that the former principal of the school reportedly engaged in “deep dishonest behavior” which resulted in your taking steps to dismiss her as a DOE employee. But we have not seen or received any report–we know there were many investigations underway, some 16 different probes to be exact–as to the charges of  discriminatory admissions practices that supposedly favored Chinese students over black and Hispanic students.What is the status of the DOE’s probe into this allegation? When might we expect the probe to be completed and its results released to the public?

I would appreciate your immediate attention to this inquiry and a prompt acknowledgement and response, sent to this e-mail address or to our mailing address (below).

Thank you very much.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Meyers, Executive Director
NEW YORK CIVIL RIGHTS COALITION
424 West 33rd Street
Suite 350
New York, New York 10001
Tel. 212-563-5636
E-Mail: MMeyers@nycivilrights.org

4 Responses to “PROBE: Is NYC Public School Favoring Asians Over Blacks and Hispanics?”

  1. Ceci Scott says:

    Dear Mr. Meyers

    Since no later than 2006, DOE’s Region 9 office handled admissions at Shuang Wen School. Before that time, when admissions were handled by the school’s administration, the proportion of Asian students at the school was actually lower than it became when Region 9 took over admissions. I am certain that you will never be able to get DOE to admit to this fact.

    It should be understandable that a high proportion of Asian students would be drawn to a good school with an Asian studies program. What I do not understand is the utter failure of anyone in the press or public sector to be concerned about the racial slurs and threats against Asians, by people who appear to be connected to DOE, that have literally driven families and teachers from the school. In my view, this is where the discrimination lies.

    Thank you for your attention.

    • admin says:

      We’d be interested in hearing more from you on this, as well as about the anti-Asian slurs from the DOE.

      The best e-mail address at which to contact me is MMeyers@nycivilrigths.org

      All the best.

      Michael Meyers
      New York Civil Rights Coalition

      • Edward W. Primus, III says:

        Mr. Meyers:

        I would like to respond to the commentary sent by Ms. Scott, who neglects to say that she is one of the small but well funded and vocal group supporting the disgraced ex-principal Ling-Ling Chou. She also neglects to say that many of the supporters who show up at the rallies and dinners are illegally in the school or teachers for the after-school program SWAN. It should also be known that they have a PR person who has contacted Chinese organizations to try and have them support the Principal luckily I have friends in Chinatown who have rebuffed their efforts to raise money. In fact, one person told me that they felt she had tried to run the school as if it was private, and if they wanted to continue in their practices they needed to buy a building and get out of the D.O.E. because that needed to be open to all children.
        I also want to point out that there has never been any racism on the part of African-American parents or Latina parents but there has been a movement after the initial publicity which actually was positive dealing with “minority” students to disenfranchise them from the school. I can give you numerous accounts from former parents, and from people who live in District 1 who were discouraged from coming into the school. I know that people were told that their children wouldn’t fit into the atmosphere of the school, and some were told that their children wouldn’t fit in.
        As far as the parents who were in the District illegally I can give you the name of one who happens to be a lawyer who I can give you all three of the residences and the time she lived there. I know she has left the school and lied by saying she was afraid, but the truth is she was caught because her residences were listed. The truth is that the Principal is using racism to try and stop the investigations into her practices, and the parents who support her in the main are people who are either engaged in shady practices with her or in the district illegally.
        Ms. Chou has also for years taken students under the counter, and as things unfold it will show that she is indeed a criminal and a racist. Those that support her who are of African descent only do so because they are also afraid of being found out that they don’t belong in the school either. I have the evidence, tell me if you want to get involved.

        Best,

        Edward

        • Edward W. Primus, III says:

          I want to add that there is a sequence of events leading to the mass exodus of African-American parents the June of 2006 which saw the leaving of 12 families from the school. One more itiem which is that this disgraced principal used ACS as a weapon against parents who disagreed with her, and also had staff harass and intimidate students whose parents she did not like. I am being open here as it has come to my attention that Ms. Chou has had papers served on her and now it is just a matter of time before it becomes public.
          The insanity is with 16 charges substantiated and more charges to come that this small group of parents is now trying to say that everything said is fabricated, I will not comment on what I think of that but I will say that addresses, checks, and statements by this disgraced Principal herself are hard to falsify.

          Best

          Edward W. Primus, III

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