This from the N.Y. Times by Sharon Otterman:
When it opened in 1998, the Shuang Wen Academy was heralded as a new kind of boutique public school, rooted in a mission of cross-cultural understanding. Small and open to children of any background, it was billed as the nation’s first dual-language English-Mandarin public school, teaching fluency in both languages.

Twelve years later, the school, on the Lower East Side, which runs from prekindergarten to eighth grade and has an enrollment of 660, boasts outstanding scores on standardized tests but is in turmoil.

The school is the target of nine city investigations stemming from allegations that it compelled families to pay for after-school instruction, tampered with the city enrollment process, mismanaged its finances and manipulated surveys on parents’ satisfaction with the school. In addition, a series of anonymous, threatening letters directed at the principal and parent leaders prompted the parents association to budget $20,000 for legal assistance and stepped-up security.

The parents association and other supporters say a few disgruntled parents are responsible both for the allegations, which are being investigated by the city’s Department of Education and by Richard J. Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for the school system, and for the threats.

“The group of three parents that we believe caused these investigations, they don’t like the Chinese after-school program,” said Gale Elston, a parents association co-president. Along with the letters, she said, the allegations are “part of a very organized terrorist hate crime that’s going on at that school.”

The parents who have made their concerns public, meanwhile, say they are the ones who are being ostracized, and they deny making any threats. They allege that a culture of intimidation at the school has kept more parents, many of whom are low-income Chinese immigrants, from speaking out.

“The environment is totalitarian,” said Saultan Baptiste, who has three daughters at the school and is the most outspoken of the parent critics. “It’s ‘you do what you are told; you don’t complain,’ and that’s just un-American.”

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