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
424 West 33rd Street
Suite 350
New York, New York 10001
Tel. 212-563-5636