By Patrick Hedlund and Tom Liddy
MANHATTAN - The principal of the popular and elite Shuang Wen School on the Lower East Side has been pulled from her position, officials said Friday.
Ling Ling Chou was reassigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of a number of ongoing investigations at the school, according to DOE spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz.
Education officials say they've chosen a "very capable and accomplished administrator with extensive experience in NYC schools" to replace her on an interim basis.
The school, at 327 Cherry St., which instructs its students in Chinese and English, is being probed for its paid after-school program and enrollment practices, among other issues.
Parents and advocates have sued the DOE for discrimination, saying that the investigations are being done in secret and racially motivated.
In April, the head of the school's non-profit arm, which oversees the after-school language program, quit, saying his departure was unrelated to the investigations.
The month before, a parent was arrested for allegedly threatening to burn down the school.
One Shuang Wen parent, Trinh Eng, said that the DOE came to the school with police today.
"One girl, entering her 8th grade year at Shuang Wen, was completely devastated. Teachers held each other and cried," she said. "[When] Principal Ling Ling Chou came out of the building, a thundering, spontaneous round of applause erupted amidst of shouts of 'Thank you.'
"In light of the educational achievements of the school and after three years of investigations yielding no hard evidence of any crime, that the O would take such punitive action without considering the impact on children and families is a sign of what happens when a government agency loses sight of why they exist...and becomes completely unaccountable to its constituency."
Another parent, whose daughter has been at the school for eight years, said he enrolled his child at Shuang Wen because of its reputation for parent involvement with the adminstration.
"I think she was fabulous," Angel Figueroa, of Inwood, said of Chou. "We've basically grown up together. ... It was a family."
He added that the police presence at the school Friday added insult to injury.
"They definitely showed her no respect," he said.