Nov 192011
 

Leaders of two French-immersion public charter schools in Uptown New Orleans, Audubon Charter School and Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans, both made efforts this week to dispute allegations that their admissions procedures favor students from wealthy families.

The allegations originate in an October report authored by former Orleans Parish schools superintendent Barbara Ferguson and education advocate Karran Harper Royal entitled “The Deception of the ‘Lottery’ at Lycee Francais and Audubon Schools.” The report argues that because both schools offer fee-based pre-kindergarten programs (costing up to $4,570 per child) that provide a pathway into their free public kindergarten classes, the schools are becoming “instruments for educating only a select group of students” and constitute a “misuse of the charter school concept.”

Leaders at both Audubon and Lycée Français responded to the accusations this week, each arguing that the report misconstrues their actual admissions procedures and reaffirming their schools’ commitment to serving students at all income levels.

Lycée Français

The response by Lycée Français came in the form of two emails addressed to parents Wednesday and Thursday seeking to dispel “false rumors” about the school. Wednesday’s letter opens by noting that the school is in regular contact with the Louisiana Department of Education and the school board’s own attorneys to ensure compliance with state charter law, then goes on to confront the admissions issue directly:

One of the false rumors being spread about Lycée Français is that we are “stacking” our public kindergarten classes with students coming from our tuition-paying Pre-K 4 classes, thus leaving no room for children who did not attend our Pre-K 4 program. In fact, Louisiana charter law, to which we adhere, does not allow automatic advancement of children from a tuition-paying program into a free public kindergarten program; if there are more applications for kindergarten than there are spots available, a lottery must be held. Please know, however, that Lycée Français’ is prepared to open additional kindergarten classes, if necessary, in order to accommodate a large number of applicants.

That email was followed up Thursday with a second message to parents.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s informational message, we want to reassure you that we are committed to accommodating all of our current Pre-K children who wish to continue in our kindergarten classes. State charter law requires us to hold a lottery if we receive more kindergarten applications than spaces available. However, our enrollment projections have always included additional kindergarten classes after this first year in order to build a strong base for Lycée Français as we move forward. Our current plan, as outlined in our contract with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, is to offer 100 kindergarten spots for 2012-13, which is double this year’s number. That means that there will be space for 60 new students in addition to the 40 current Pre-K 4 students that we expect to welcome into kindergarten next year, which should eliminate the need for a lottery. In the unlikely event that we receive more than 100 applications, however, we are prepared to create even more kindergarten spaces in order to accommodate the demand.

Lycée Français is expected to announce Monday the location of its new “main campus,” which school leaders have said will have room for 500 students — including the expanded kindergarten sections that board members have long planned for.

Audubon Charter School

For Audubon, the response to the report came in the form of a 40-minute explainer session about the school’s admissions practices during Saturday’s monthly meeting of the school board. The complexity of the high-profile school’s admissions process may give rise to the misconceptions, said Carlos Zervigon, a founding member of the school’s board and its current vice-chair, but he and school administrators sought clarity on the issue through a lengthy report of their own, bolstered by statistics.

Audubon Charter accepts students in three “tiers” for its openings, officials said. The first tier is for French nationals and siblings of current students. The second tier is for students from French-speaking countries and students in French-immersion or Montessori programs, and the third tier is open to anyone. The tier system, Zervigon noted, is to satisfy the requirements of the French government, from which Audubon also receives funding and faculty members.

Although pre-kindergarten is fee-based, the majority of children do not pay a fee, according to statistics compiled by the school. Gifted and special-needs students are paid by the state, low-income 4-year-olds are paid by a state grant known as LA4, and the amount of the fee is determined by a separate company based on a sliding scale that examines a family’s income.

“We have a good number of people who pay no fee, some who pay a full fee, and some who pay partial,” Zervigon said. “No one is being barred because of ability to pay. No one is being kept out.”

Specifically, statistics compiled by the school show that of 90 students in pre-kindergarten at Audubon in the current school year, 27 are paying a fee — 30 percent (the same proportion as last school year). Seven students qualified as gifted or special-needs, 18 were recipients of the LA4 grant, and 38 were deemed not to need to pay at all. Of the 27 who do pay a fee, eight students are being charged reduced amounts that range from less than $1,000 to less than $3,000, leaving only 19 students being charged at or near the full $4,570.

While on the topic, Audubon leaders took issue with the “selective admissions” moniker that has been applied to the school as well. Students in pre-kindergarten through second grade are admitted without any testing whatsoever. New students applying to enter grades three through eight are tested, but primarily to ensure that they are prepared for the specific demands of the French program, where all classes are taught in French, or the Montessori program, which employ a system of self-guided instruction that requires a certain amount of remediation for new students unused to it, leaders said. But once admitted, students are not tested to return.

“Students are not put out for academic reasons,” Zervigon said.

Several board members thanked Zervigon for the explanation, but noted their own discomfort at the notion of charging a fee for any of the school’s classes. Zervigon replied that he had initially opposed a fee-based pre-kindergarten, but said he was won over by the notion that allowing some families who can afford to pay to do so creates space and opportunities for families who couldn’t afford it at all.

“We’re all uncomfortable with this,” said board member Teddi Locke. “The problem is, there’s a huge pre-K population across the country that’s not being funded.”

Board member Jacqueline Smith suggested that the school begin exploring ways to raise money to reduce the cost for the remaining parents who do pay.

The school’s admissions policies do create one loophole, Zervigon noted. Because the French government requires Audubon to give preference to students transferring from other French immersion schools — a policy intended to accomodate students whose families have to move to New Orleans for work, for example — students who attend the private pre-kindergarten program at Ecole Bilingue could take advantage of that policy and transfer to Audubon.

“You could spend $10,000 for one year at Ecole Bilingue, and then jump the line and come to Audubon,” Zervigon said. “That doesn’t work for any of us.”

Not only does that loophole weaken Audubon’s commitment to open enrollment, Zervigon said, it also hurts Ecole Bilingue creating vacancies there in upper levels that can be harder to fill. The problem is relatively rare — there are still open spots in this year’s kindergarten class, for example — but is worth addressing, Zervigon said.

“There’s really no easy solution,” Zervigon said after the meeting. “We’ll have to talk to the French government about it.”

Saturday’s meeting of Audubon Charter School’s governing board also included updates on the school’s renovation of the Broadway campus and temporary move to Gentilly, its efforts to control school traffic on Broadway, and a discussion of a recent visit to the school by the French ambassador. To read a transcript of our live coverage of Saturday’s meeting, see the box below.

  Audubon Charter School – November board meeting (11/19/2011) 
10:18
Good morning. I’m Robert Morris of UptownMessenger.com, and I’m at Audubon Charter School’s Carrollton campus for the November meeting of the school’s governing board.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:18 
10:20
The board has just reached a quorum and begun the meeting, and vice president Carlos Zervigon is leading a discussion of parent representation on the board.

Parent representation on a board is generally not considered a best practice for school governance, Zervigon says, because it puts parents in a supervisory role over teachers. But parents were instrumental in writing the charter, and Audubon has continued the practice, Zervigon says.

“It works for Audubon,” Zervigon says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:20 
10:21
The board has two new parent representatives this year, one for French and one for Montessori.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:21 
10:22
Moving on the principal’s report, Janice Dupuy says the Montessori teachers are now enrolled in online training courses. No Montessori training is offered locally, so prior to the online course, they had to travel to cities around the country for the training.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:22 
10:23
The French ambassador visited Audubon’s campus yesterday. “Although the visit was short, they were able to pick up that our students speak French as if they were natural born citizens,” Dupuy says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:23 
10:24
The school’s annual fund has raised $11,000 since last year. The school will hold a “Farewell to Broadway” party next month.

“It’s going to be sad, but at the same time, we’re ready to move on and get the renovation started,” Dupuy says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:24 
10:25
The school has received the final drawings for the swing space, and administrators will meet with parents Wednesday about start and end times and other operational questions. There will also be a visit day ahead of time so parents will know where to take their kids.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:25 
10:27
Dupuy says the school is continuing its “Be a Good Neighbor” campaign, trying to stop people from parking illegally, in front of driveways and too close to corners. On Thursday, a traffic officer came to help with traffic flow. He noticed the number of people speeding, and the school has requested the NOPD send a speed-enforcement officer to the area as well.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:27 
10:31
The board will receive an updated budget proposal at its next meeting, which will be Dec. 17.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:31 
10:33
The French program is accredited through the French ministry up to 5th grade. To get a middle school accredited, it would have to add a 9th grade, Zervigon says.

To his knowledge, Audubon is the only public school accredited through the French ministry in the country — all the others are “very expensive” private schools, he says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:33 
10:35
But the French program started as an agreement 25 years ago between the Louisiana governor’s office and the French government, Zervigon notes.

But since Audubon became a charter operated by the nonprofit FAME board, the relationship has become much more direct, Zervigon says. That way, the governor’s office cannot make agreements with the French government without the school’s input.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:35 
10:36
“They’ve been our advocates, not just somebody on the other side of the table to negotiate with,” Zervigon says.

Two teachers come directly from the French Ministry of Education, he says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:36 
10:38
Now, Audubon is under the French foreign ministry, not the ministry of education. The reason for that is because schools like Audubon are considered schools for French nationals abroad.

The French ministry of education is more for schools that choose to follow the French national curriculum, he says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:38 
10:40
Audubon is part of the French international school system, Zervigon says, which is different. And part of the reason the visit from the ambassador was important was so that Audubon could make a case to retain the funding it receives from France as governments across Europe enter a period of austerity.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:40 
10:42
Moving on, Zervigon turns to a discussion of the nomination process for new board members.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:42 
10:45
Board member Jackie Smith is encouraging that an orientation session be held for new members, because service on the board requires a good deal of training.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:45 
10:46
Zervigon notes that he won’t be on the board next year.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:46 
10:47
He asks that nominations be sent to him by Monday.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:47 
10:48
Next is a discussion of admissions.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:48 
10:51
The office of civil rights within the state Department of Education was called into New Orleans in the 1990s to review admissions at schools around the city. Back then, Audubon was open admissions, first-come first-serve, stand in line for admissions, Zervigon says, but came under fire for its racial makeup.

At that time, it changed to begin testing, and other components were added.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:51 
10:53
When Audubon became a charter, they ended the testing. But faculty came back, especially in the Montessori program, and asked that testing be reinstated in the upper grades, 3rd through 8th grades, Zervigon says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:53 
10:55
The testing not only includes academic subjects, but also behavior, attendance and parental involvement, says administrator Alisa Dupre. Dupre says that for parents who are fully involved, they will likely meet the admissions requirement.

Also, the highest-scoring students aren’t the ones that are admitted. It’s just that students must meet a certain threshold to qualify.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:55 
10:56
Zervigon says Audubon is primarily an open-admissions school, because the majority of its students come in kindergarten through second grade.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:56 
10:56
Very few students start attending Audubon in the upper grades, just one or two per year.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:56 
10:57
Also, once students are admitted to Audubon, they can return each year. They do not have to meet a certain testing level each year.

“Students are not put out for academic reasons,” Zervigon says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:57 
10:58
The French program requires that students after first grade are able to communicate on grade level in French, because otherwise “they are doomed to failure,” Zervigon says. All subjects are taught in French.
Saturday November 19, 2011 10:58 
11:02
Pre-kindergarten is fee-based, because the state generally won’t pay. But students who are gifted are paid by the state. Same for special needs students.

For free-and-reduced lunch students who are admitted to pre-K4, the school receives some money from the state.

But for students who don’t meet that criteria — including 3-year-olds — pre-kindergarten is fee-based.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:02 
11:03
But the school didn’t want to block people who couldn’t afford pre-kindergarten, so they have contracted with a third-party service that develops a sliding scale fee based on income.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:03 
11:04
“We have a good number of people who pay no fee, some who pay a full fee, and some who pay partial,” Zervigon says. “No one is being barred because of ability to pay. No one is being kept out.”
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:04 
11:05
Dupre also points out that the fee assessment takes place after the lottery, so the school doesn’t know whether families will be able to pay when they are accepted.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:05 
11:08
Some families who are accepted choose not to attend, but they usually go on to other fee-based pre-kindergarten programs, Dupre says. But only one has appealed the fee decision in the two years of the program.

Some parents say they won’t apply because they don’t think they can afford it, but Dupre says she encourages them to apply anyway, because they might end up qualifying not to pay the fee.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:08 
11:08
Students who then enter the pre-kindergarten are given admittance through the system.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:08 
11:09
Zervigon says it was important to have a pre-kindergarten, because that’s how it’s done in France.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:09 
11:11
Board member Jacqueline Smith says she’s still uncomfortable with the $4500 fee for pre-kindergarten.

“We’re all uncomfortable with this,” says board member Teddi Locke. “The problem is, there’s a huge pre-K population across the country that’s not being funded.”
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:11 
11:13
Zervigon says he really fought against the fee at first, but what won him over is that it’s effect in the end is that families who can afford the fee are helping make pre-K3 available to students who couldn’t.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:13 
11:13
This way, some children who couldn’t afford pre-K3 are receiving it — instead of none if the program didn’t exist.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:13 
11:15
Smith says she wants to know how much the program costs, so the board can explore ways to raise money to reduce the cost.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:15 
11:17
The program is more expensive than kindergarten and above. Pre-K has a max of 20 students per class with a teacher and an assistant, while kindergarten and above can be 26 students with a teacher only.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:17 
11:22
Yet another exception: French nationals receive automatic admission, based on the school’s agreement with the French government. The school also gives preference to students from Francophone countries. Finally, siblings of current students also receive preference.

Yet another “wrinkle,” Zervigon says: Students from sister French-accredited schools also receive preference. That worked fine until the emergence of Ecole Bilingue in New Orleans, another French school that’s private.

“You could spend $10,000 for one year at Ecole Bilinque, and then jump the line and come to Audubon,” Zervigon says. “That doesn’t work for any of us.”

Not only does it weaken Audubon’s commitment to open enrollment, it also hurts Ecole Bilingue — now they have to find French-speaking students to replace those who left to go to Audubon.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:22 
11:23
It’s actually a three tier system.
First preference – French nationals and siblings of current students.
Second preference – Students from Francophone countries and those from French-immersion schools.
Third – open.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:23 
11:24
But it’s not a widespread problem, the officials conclude, as evidenced by the fact that this year’s kindergarten still has vacancies.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:24 
11:26
Audubon doesn’t use top-down admissions for its testing, but the Office of Civil Rights would allow it for half of the incoming class.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:26 
11:27
Zervigon says he is opposed to testing kindergarten students. All it really measures is the education level of the parents, he says.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:27 
11:28
Zervigon says that Audubon suffers from the fact that the system is complicated and not well understood by the public.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:28 
11:29
Dupre notes that students cannot apply to both programs.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:29 
11:29
That appears to be it for the admissions discussion.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:29 
11:30
Now on to the facilities update.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:30 
11:34
The city Board of Zoning Adjustments approved the variance request that will allow the Broadway campus expansion, which we reported on here: http://uptownmessenger.com/2011/11/board-of-zoning-adjustments-audubon-charter-school-and-4500-magazine/
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:34 
11:35
The major objection of neighbors has been traffic, so Dupre says the school is trying some new tactics before the school moves, such as bringing out a traffic officer.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:35 
11:36
Audubon has requested speeding cameras outside both of its campuses.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:36 
11:37
The board commends the administrators for making traffic more of a priority.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:37 
11:42
Zervigon makes clear that the board wants monthly updates on the situation efforts to get crossing guards and more traffic control devices.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:42 
11:43
Dupuy notes that the Orleans Parish School Board passed a good-neighbor resolution that commits to solving the traffic problems.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:43 
11:46
There’s a suggestion that the board pass a resolution requiring that a crossing guard or police officer be secured, but Zervigon says he doesn’t not think it’s wise for the board to give narrow orders to the administration, lest it be seen as direct interference. Instead, he says it’s better just to make clear to the administration that it wants the problem solved.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:46 
11:49
Smith suggests a good solution would be for the administration to add a monthly report to the board on traffic issues.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:49 
11:52
The board decides to send a letter to the mayor’s office and other officials also expressing its wishes regarding traffic control.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:52 
11:55
That’s it for the meeting. Thanks for reading UptownMessenger.com.
Saturday November 19, 2011 11:55 
12:05
 

 

 
 

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that the author of this article, Robert Morris, is the parent at Lycée Français (as also noted on our “About Us” page). Contact Robert at rmorris@NolaMessenger.com, or post your comment below.

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  • Nola

    Would a school striving to appeal to the average middle or lower income New Orleanian (not the wealthy New Orleanian) choose personally monogrammed smocked dresses for pre-k girls (a parent would need to purchase at least 3), and they cannot be passed on to the next child. Would Kindergarten girls be required to purchase a specific Mary Jane shoe that costs approximately 50 dollars along with a specific 30 dollar uniform sweater. What happened to Target and Wal-mart…? Kids go through shoe sizes very quickly. We won’t even get in to how comfortable the little boys look in bermudas and polo shirts….These are the uniforms of the Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle Orleans.

    Additionally, I think a major point of the other article by Dr. Ferguson was that federal funds were being used to fund the private Pre-K at Lycee, which is illegal. Further, a federal start up grant intended for schools that meet the needs of at risk students was received by the Lycee. I have seen very few financially “at risk” children in New Orleans who can afford 40-50 dollar uniforms. I have seen very few educationally “at risk” students who can manage a French immersion curriculum.

    • Mst

      Nonsense. I have one child in a “traditional” neighborhood public school and one child at an FI charter. Their uniform requirements are the same; the expense was the same. The boys at both schools wear polos and shorts or pants, which are hardly uncomfortable by any stretch. Overall, uniforms keep costs down and minimize a materialistic focus on clothing (yes, including shoes). It’s a blessing for my family. Children have to wear something, and you can get by with a lot less if there’s a uniform. (You do not need “at least 3.” That would be nice, but I have certainly made do with less.)

      Federal funds can only be used to cover pre-K tuition for children with special needs (e.g., developmental delays, giftedness), and I believe there is a separate grant for some children who qualify financially. Otherwise, ALL children who attend Pre-K at ANY school have to pay tuition. Lycee Francais is no different.

      Personally, I think it’s a shame that in our country Pre-K isn’t provided for all children. If you’ve seen the modern day Kindergarten class, you should know that children who don’t attend Pre-K (or get appropriately home-schooled) are going to be at a serious disadvantage. But this isn’t the fault of the charter schools, and tearing down charter schools when they are a LIFE SAVER for so many of us is just plain spiteful.

  • kally

    Why is there NO mention of the accusation that the lycee has violated charter law by taking ferderal start up money? It is illigal to use this money for tuition paying schools. The budget submitted to the federal government to receive this money is clearly cited in the article and prek school articles were purchased and included.

    Please note that Audubon Charter never received start up charter money specifically because of their selective admissions policiy. The lycee school thrives on deception.

    I would also ask, Where are the at risk kids at the lycee? where are the children of color? Why are there NO free or reduced lunch children? why is the public not disgusted by this elitism and ask why are they not including in the make up of this school? Do they really want them? This school is less diverse than Country day and St Andrews.

  • Nola Parent

    @ Nola- Your comments are false. The smocks are not personally monogrammed. If parents have chosen to do that, it is their choice, not required by the school. The students may wear any shoes as long as they navy, black or brown and can be purchased ANYWHERE, including Walmart and/or Target. The boys where uniform blue shorts and polo shirts. Again, they can be purchased ANYWHERE and 95% of the public schools in the area have the exact same uniform.
    The school partnered with Schiro’s because they agreed to work with parents to try to keep costs down and even hand delivered items to parents who could not afford shipping or get out to their store. Link to uniform policy: http://www.lfno.org/community/parent-tools/uniforms/

    Furthermore, ‘at risk’ students can manage a French immersion or any other curriculum. How insulting and ignorant.

  • Nola Parent

    I’m so angry, I’m making typos: The boys ‘wear’ uniform blue and polo shirts.

  • kally

    Nola parent, you may be angry, but this school has NO free kids, and out of 123 students, 89 are white. Unheard in a New Orleans public school. Again less diverse than Country day or St Andrews. Outreach is needed to change this. Ask yourself Why the school looks like this and maybe you can help change the perception.

  • kally

    Oops, I meant to write NO free lunch kids.

  • Nola

    I’m sorry NolaParent. The last time I looked there was no clarification on the shoes. The website does still indicate that the white shirts with red collars are monogrammed. Also, realistically where else might someone find a white shirt with a red piped collar for a little girl where it would be less than 15 dollars? Not Target or Wal -Mart. The kindergarten girl’s uniform is 35 dollars without the cardigan or shoes. The jumper can probably be worn more than once, but not 5 times. I was not clear when I commented on the boy’s uniforms, but my argument is that the girls look like princesses.. There are no pant or short options for girls that I can see. I do not think this is appropriate in this day and age in a public school. Finally, monogrammed or not, the pre-k smock is not a target or wal-mart buy. The little girls look like they go to Sacred Heart. They are adorable, but the choice is an elitist and expensive choice for a public school.
    It is not an insult to say that an at risk child will have trouble with an immersion program. It requires a lot of resources to supplement immersion programs for some children with “average” learning capabilities. A child with severe dyslexia or other learning difficulties would have an extremely difficult time in an immersion program. Parents who cannot help with homework will be under water. The comment was practical. Not an insult. What resources does this program offer for the learning disabled….?

  • Pingback: Lycée Français announces St. Francis of Assisi school at State and Patton as new campus » Uptown Messenger

  • Mary

    (1) I don’t know if anyone who is posting has seen the girl’s uniforms, but they are monogrammed with, “LFNO” for the school’s name, not personalized.

    (2) I checked out Schiro’s website and LANGSTON HUGHES, a school that is 100% at-risk has uniform choices within the same price points as Lycée. Is anyone picking on them???

    (3) So “at-risk” means you have to be a black child? Too many people are “judging a book by its cover.” I know plenty of white children who are at-risk, too.

    (4) In case anyone forgot, this school was awarded its charter not even a year ago. Give the school a chance to get the job done. I’m sure they will be trying to recruit more of a diverse population, which is a good thing. I think it’s good for kids to be exposed to different socio-economic populations – it represents the real world.

    (5) I’m seeing this from an outside perspective – it seems like all the news stories about “allegations, etc.” coming at this new school are from parties that are probably threatened by its potential success. On one hand, there is Audubon who is moving to Gentilly from Uptown and I’M SURE there are a fair share of parents not happy about that and are looking to leave based on that alone. Add to that – the parents who are not happy with Audubon’s administration (I’ve read the past board meeting minutes and people don’t seem very nice in those meetings, esp. when the lead issue was going on). On the other hand, there is Ecole Bilingue, a private French immersion who potentially can lose students to the free program at Lycee Francais. Why pay for the French curriculum when you can get it for free and up to the high school level? I feel bad for this new school because instead of those other schools trying to better themselves and come up with innovative ways to retain students, they are attacking a new school. Essentially, they are attacking innocent children who are getting an education.

    (6) How does anyone know they don’t have handicap/children with learning difficulties? Because they don’t LOOK the part? I think because it was a new school, people were skeptical. Give the school a chance, people. It’s their first year for crying out loud.

    Doesn’t this negativity get exhausting for anyone? All these people with nothing but complaints – how can you live with all that negativity? Don’t you ever try to see the good anything? Or maybe – instead of complaining about this school, try volunteering over there to HELP them do outreach, to HELP them spread the word about the school, the HELP them get additional funding for programs that every school needs to be a successful school. Be PROACTIVE and try actually helping instead of complaining.

  • Nola Parent

    Kally- I can’t think of a more racist or ignorant statement than to say that because a child is white, they are not ‘at risk’ or to say that because a child is African American or another minority they are automatically ‘at risk’. Below is exactly what the website states regarding uniforms and shoes, but this isn’t really about that, and we know it.
    NOTE: All items that are monogrammed must be purchased at Schiro’s (they have the official school logo). If you prefer to purchase bottoms elsewhere (such as shorts, pants, etc.), please match as closely to the Schiro’s uniform as possible; see the uniform guide above for guidance on colors and styles.
    School shoes: navy, brown or black. They are not required to be purchased from Schiro’s.
    The bottom line is that this is a wonderful public school that is open to any and every child in New Orleans. Don’t we all want that for our city?

  • Wendy

    I am a Lycee parent. When our child was accepted, and we decided to register him, we had no idea what the uniform would be, nor did anyone else. So, our decision was not based upon the uniform, or the expense of the uniform, or the style of the uniform. It was based on the fact that we had a good impression of Lycee, liked the curriculum and want our child to be bilingual. Really, it had nothing to do with the uniform.

    And, seriously, the boys won’t be “comfortable” in polos and shorts? That’s the uniform of every school that I know of. That’s how I know this argument is based on emotion, and not on the logic (and the real facts).

  • Wendy

    I would also like to add that I think most parents understand there are uniform costs involved in schools that have uniforms. It is also pretty well understood that the cost of uniforms, including the Lycee uniforms, are less than purchasing a regular wardrobe.

  • Julie

    I know a lot of people at the other French schools. It is funny how they all get along fine, but none of them like the Lycee. (Let me clarify something here. The Lycee I am referring to is not its students and families, the Lycee is the administration.) Perhaps it has something to do with the way the school conducts itself. Want an example? The Lycee logo looks identical to the L’Union Francaise emblem, except it has the Audubon Charter school’s bird in the middle.
    The Lycee had their 1st Fete de la Musique which they called “Fete” a weekend (March 27) before Ecole Bilingue had their 11th Fete Francaise, which they call “Fete” (April 2). Don’t think this was done out of spite? Fete de la Musique is an annual party similar to our Fourth of July that is held annually on June 21st around the world. Funny how they couldn’t come up with a different name instead of “Fete” or use the correct date to have their fundraiser.
    How can any school get along with another school who tries to take their students? Until the Lycee was reported and changed their application for next year, they were taking students from K though 12th grade. If a student can only apply to the Lycee in Kindergarten with no previous French immersion, where would these students come from? The obvious answer would be all of the other French immersion schools.
    The Lycee has advertised all year with a brochure that has one child of color on it who goes to Audubon, not the Lycee. I just checked their home page, and the same Audubon child is the first picture you see and I checked…yep, he is still attending school at Audubon.
    It was announced last year at Parker Memorial United Methodist that a new French school would be signing a lease with them. This is where Ecole Bilingue has their Pre-K. Don’t think the Lycee would do that? Google CharterDiscovery. Their location is still listed as the Nashville address of Parker Memorial …and oh yeah, signing a lease behind another school’s back is exactly what they did to the 400 at risk children at the St. Francis of Assisi new location. Exactly where will these children go to school? Is the Lycee trying to recruit any of them?
    Instead of fundraising at Generations Hall ( a rather expensive place to have a party), have they tried to advertise in anything that is not read by mostly uptown families? Uptown messenger seems to be very focused on…uptown. Nola.com, nolafrancaise, facebook, nolaparent.com, Eventbrite, GulfCoastRising, …none of these really scream “at risk population”. They are not listed on the Orleans Parish School Board site as a charter school. It is not a Recovery School District School. Nothing on New Schools for New Orleans…I think you get my point.
    For a school that is trying so hard to defend itself and make everyone else out to be the bad guy, perhaps they could look at the way they conduct their own business.
    Oh, and one more thing…anyone can say they are “going to be accredited”. Until they receive that accreditation, it is JUST TALK.
    I DO hope that the Lycee does what is in its mission. I DO hope that they become successful, but NOT by hurting the other immersion schools in the area. I would love to see more French immersion schools all over the city and the state, especially public immersion schools. But, schools should be civil to each other. I would love to see the Lycee focus on its students instead of trying to hurt other French schools. Perhaps then all of the French schools in New Orleans (including the Lycee) could do something truly amazing… produce beautiful, smart, bilingual students that accept people for who they are, regardless of their differences…students that will all go on to do amazing things…

    • Claudia

      Lycee has been civil from the very beginning and still is. However, it seems like everyone else has been on the defense since the school even opened up. And I do believe that it would be amazing if all the French schools worked together. It should always be like that. After all, it’s about the Children.

      • Julie

        Give one example of how the Lycee has been civil? It is all about actions not words.

    • A parent

      Julie – Seriously? “Fete” is the French word for festival. Your argument that LFNO (a French immersion school) should not use the term because another French immersion school uses it is the equivalent of suggesting that “French Quarter Fest” should be renamed, because “Jazz Fest” already uses the term “Fest.”

      With regard to the logo – the LFNO logo includes the nesting pelican from the Louisiana state flag/seal – in fact, it looks pretty much like a direct lift from the state flag/seal. The Audubon logo appears to be a drawing of a pelican – but in flight, in a profile view, and in a completely different style. Considering that it is the State Bird, I hardly think you can accuse LFNO of stealing “Audubon’s Bird.” If so, there are a number of other schools in New Orleans or the state that feature pelicans prominently in their logos (there are many), and you may also want to take issue with them.

      The child you claim is “still attending Audubon” does attend LFNO, so I’m not sure why you’re claiming otherwise. Perhaps he has a doppelganger or a twin? Or perhaps your statement is simply inaccurate.

      The claims about the lease signings and the “at risk” percentage have been discussed ad nauseum in these comments, and in the other articles regarding the school, so I’ll refrain from refuting them once again, as the corrective statements are obviously being ignored.

      I’m not sure why a handful of individuals seem to have a major issue with the school, endlessly repeating what have, so far, turned out to be almost entirely baseless accusations – although I CAN tell you that the most vocal critics, at least those who have identified themselves by first and last name, all seem to have a connection with a certain private school that could be considered a competitor of LFNO. Curious…

      • Julie

        That is funny, because as I have read the comments, I have not seen a single person list their first and last name.
        As I have said before, I would love to see the Lycee do well. I just find it very suspicious that the Lycee has been involved in several sketchy events.
        As for your remark about Jazz Fest, that would be true if they called Jazz Fest “Fest” and French Quarter Fest was called “Fest”. However, it is not just the fact that the Lycee called their festival “Fete”. Perhaps you choose to specifically ignore the time the Lycee choose to host thier festival and the bizarre reason for having their March 27th event in March rather than in June…as it is always held all over the world…except when the Lycee has it.
        You are right, there is so much backlash and name calling from both sides when the focus should be on the students. I would love to hear about the sucess of the students at all of the schools.
        One more thing, yes my child goes to a private school, but perhaps not the one you alluded to in your response. and, it seems to me that there are several parents from several French schools that have been commenting. Perhaps it is you who has something against the “private school” you seem sure is out to hurt the Lycee. From what I hear, that private school is competing with the other private schools like Newman and Country Day…not your public school.
        Now, if you want to impress me, tell me how your students are doing. Tell me what awards your school has won. Tell me how your school is different. Tell me the things that would make me want to send my son to your school, not just because it is a French school, but what makes it different from the other French schools. So far, I do not see what makes the Lycee stand out. It does not have a tract record. Everything I have heard sounds great, but I have not seen anything to back it up. How do you know you will be accredited? I thought a school has to apply for accreditation and until they receive it, they do not have it. Show me where there is infomation about a “fast tract” to being accredited. I heard about this at one of the meetings, but can not find any information about it online.
        Perhaps much of the gossip is unfounded. Perhaps I should stay out of this. All I can tell anyone who wants to know more about any of the schools they are interested in, is to do your research.

        • Mst

          Julie (or “Julie,” how do we know if that’s your real name?) I personally could not care less about impressing you, and as far as I am concerned you can continue on at the private school you say your child attends. What I care about is working hard to make my child’s school successful. And it is successful, despite the efforts of those–like you–who want to tear it down with baseless gossip.

  • oookay

    You people are really something. I always longed to have the money so that I could send my kids to one of these so called elite ,better schools. I say so this because after reading this blog I have to wonder what you people are doing with the better part of the day. Isn’t your income enough for you to go take tennis lessons or something? How about going to Childrens Hospital? You sound like a bunch of cacklin hens . Get a LiFE will you and let a new school open in peace. You notice ISL is not involved in this crazinest? No, they are just going on their merry way opening new schools. Let the kids get educated for pete’s sake!