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Shuang Wen School Investigation Uncovers 'Dishonest Behavior'

By Amy Zimmer | April 20, 2012 8:13pm | Updated on April 21, 2012 1:43pm
Shuang Wen principal Ling Ling Chou was reassigned by the Department of Education.
Shuang Wen principal Ling Ling Chou was reassigned by the Department of Education.
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MANHATTAN —  A Department of Education investigation focused on the former principal of the elite Shuang Wen School uncovered 16 substantiated allegations of misconduct, including improperly enrolling students into the coveted Lower East Side school, DOE officials said Friday.

Ling Ling Chou — who had been removed from her position as principal in July amid several investigations  — allowed 65 students to be admitted improperly after failing to supervise her staff and train them in proper enrollment practices, according to the allegations. 

Manipulating attendance records, misrepresenting hours that classes were in session on a federal grant application and failing to abide by conflict of interest rules were among other charges in the DOE's Office of Special Investigations report.  

Chou claimed the school had a 99 percent attendance rate, but the report found, for instance, the principal would discharge a student who went on a family vacation and then re-enroll that student afterward.

The education department said it planned to fire Chou.

"For years, Principal Chou engaged in dishonest behavior, unbeknownst to her students and school community," Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said in a statement. "Principal Chou’s conduct has failed to meet the standard we set for our principals, and I am filing charges to terminate her employment."

Families from the dual-language school had rallied to Chou's defense in the past.  One parent told DNAinfo in July, when she was pulled from her position, "I think she was fabulous… It was a family."

Their response to Walcott's recent statement was no different, calling the investigation a "witch hunt" and an "enormous waste of money."

A report by the Special Commissioner of Investigation from November had found that no theft of funds occurred at the Cherry Street school, which has been embroiled in controversy since charges were leveled against it by the Department of Education last summer.

No one answered the school's phones Friday evening, and the school's current principal did not immediately respond for comment.