Taipei American School, Stranger than Fiction

Taipei American School has issues to address: bloated administrative salaries and a Board that unilaterally gave their Head of School the power to expel students and fire teachers at will are among the questions for which large groups of parents are calling for immediate transparency.

According to a 2018 tax filing, TAS held close to US$120,000,000 in net assets at that time. The highest earner on payroll, Head of School Sharon Hennessy, reportedly took home US$768,000. Director of PE, Health and Sports, Ryan Mueller (brought onboard by Hennessy to fill the newly created position, with reportedly no experience in education), earned a whopping US$1,000,000 in total compensation in four years, and then abruptly left. Questions, anyone?

Beyond financial concerns, a school counselor, accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student, abruptly left TAS to later be accused of sexual misconduct by two students at his next school. In a different incident, the rape of a minor by a 17 year-old student was settled out of court (the age of consent in Taiwan is 16), leaving TAS with more unanswered questions.

TAS appears to have all the trappings of a “who-done-it” movie. For an extensive, startling, behind-the-scenes look at life at TAS, GO to Tricky Taipei, a read well worth the time.

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11 thoughts on “Taipei American School, Stranger than Fiction

  1. I worked as an administrator at a school in Vietnam where money regularly passed hands from wealthy parents to the owner and students who had “Fs” were suddenly on the honor roll!!!! All parents wanted was a pass to send these kids to American universities with bogus transcripts where they lasted one semester, bombed out and parents had to go get them…. guess these parents found out they couldn’t pay for grades in the US! Went on to see this in other countries….very common practice – sad but true.


  2. I fear that for most teachers the takeaway of this article will be that there’s lots of money to be made at TAS, and not that it’s a place to be avoided.


  3. I spent two miserable years at TAS. It was bait and switch: I was told everything I wanted to hear, only to find out that it was not the school I had been sold on. This school is little better than a diploma mill for the former head’s stated goal: to get kids to Harvard. Not to Standford, Yale, or Princeton. Her mentions of Harvard at faculty meetings became a running joke… a sad metaphor for the school


  4. Pedophiles posing as teachers are unfortunately not a rarity especially in Asia and South America. I worked at a school in Myanmar where there were several old guys with ver young ‘girlfriends’ who took advantage of the locals and nothing was ever said! The world is full of great teachers but for students unlucky enough to encounter the fakes and the deviants, their lives can be ruined.


    1. Little bit of a reach there, RX? I think comparing actual pedophiles with older adults who date younger adults (18 and up) is ridiculous and irresponsible. Assuming both are of age and no duress involved, what gives you the right to dictate with whom someone falls in love or dates?


    2. If those teachers were ‘dating’ underage girls then you must have reported these men to the local police authorities right, RX?


  5. Wow – I worked at a school in Guatemala that compares to this story. The director was siphoning money to the tune of 50K found in his brief case. Honor students who never came to class mysteriously ended up with As on their report cards. Kids doing drugs at school. A board that treated the teachers like crap and found any and all ways to cheat us out of our money. These stories are all to real in the world of international schools where misfits from public education in the States find a place to hide out.


  6. This is another incontrovertible proof that overseas teaching, shorn of any union protection or oversight from the authorities, can become a fertile field for failed and perverted pseudo-educators to plant their rotten seeds in what could otherwise be a decent instution. This story repeats itself countless times, in many variants and diverse, corrupt scenarios because failed ¨educators¨ find sanctuary and a rich haven for their corrupt, profiteering behaviour in schools that are supposed to be protecting their stakeholders.
    That said, most international schools are filled with honest,hard-working real educators.

    Liked by 1 person

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