Vuong Thuy, the founding chief executive of an academically successful North Philadelphia charter school, was toppled by his handpicked board after a monthlong campaign by parents and staff.The board of the Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School last week voted unanimously to remove Thuy from his leadership position after being besieged by complaints of a rodent infestation, unsanitary bathrooms, and a "toxic" climate in which staff, parents, and students were berated and demeaned.Parents and staff also expressed concern that charter school money was being drained to represent Thuy in connection with a federal probe and a state ethics investigation.Stephanie Johnson, who helped mobilize other parents, said she was even more shocked when the school produced a record indicating it had spent $222,000 in the last 12 months to represent Thuy in various investigations...The investigations were spawned by a charter school report that the City Controller's Office released last spring. The controller questioned Thuy's ties to a related organization that owns Multi-Cultural's building...The charter has a strict behavior code, focuses on preparing students for college, and boasts a record of academic success. The school has exceeded state benchmarks for four consecutive years. In 2009-10, 77 percent of 11th graders scored at grade level or higher in math, and 61.5 percent in reading...But staff - including English teacher Seth Carter and programs coordinator Frank Mannino - said they had become increasingly disenchanted over what they described as Thuy's dictatorial leadership style, explosive temper, and demeaning behavior.Last winter, Thuy stormed out of a meeting with parents who were concerned that a no-cellphone policy left their children unable to call for help after several students were jumped near the school.Carter said Thuy "flipped out" and then walked out on a group of 30 people: "He never got past the first question."At a separate schoolwide meeting, Thuy told the students, who are largely African American, that they were barred from bringing cellphones to school because they would use them to sell drugs, several staff members said.Multi-Cultural is one of 18 local charter schools being investigated by federal authorities, according to sources with knowledge of that probe.As a charter school official, Thuy is covered by the state ethics law, which bars conflicts of interest. He is also being investigated by the state Ethics Commission, sources at the school said...Teachers, who said they feared losing their jobs if they spoke up or asked questions about Thuy, have signed cards indicating their interest in being represented by a union. An election is scheduled for this month...The school's five-year charter renewal will go before the School Reform Commission during the next school year...Parents and teachers said they had a difficult time communicating with the board. It meets only four times a year at 8 a.m., and Thuy tightly controlled access.Carter said Thuy told staff that if they wanted to talk to the board, they would have to talk to him. He told them he would relay information to the board and then report back."He told parents the same thing," Mannino said...
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Multi-Cultural Academy Charter School
“Charter's board ousts its founder: Vuong Thuy had been the subject of amonth of complaints from parents and staff about the school.” Philadelphia Inquirer 5/8/11