May 142012
 

After an explosive meeting of the Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans governing board on Monday evening that included an unsuccessful effort to remove one member over a “derogatory” email, the member who led that effort resigned from the board Tuesday morning.

The tumult comes amid a transition in the school’s administrative leadership that drew a number of concerned parents to the meeting Monday, and exposes a number of issues that apparently divide the board but have had relatively little discussion in public until now.

“Derogatory” email
On April 22, amid ongoing discussions about the plan for the addition of a second grade in the fall, board member Allen Kelly sent the following email, intended for vice-chair Tom Klingler, to the address of fellow board member Paige Saleun by accident:

Tom:
As Vice Chair, would you bitch-slap, Paige? Please… Last I recall I was not invited to the meeting between Jean, JJ, and Paige in which they discussed second grade; were you? Me thinks Paige doth protest too much… have you or I hit a sensitive nerve?

And you are correct, PreK-3 is considered a private school and public funds can not be used to alleviate a private school deficit. This is an area we may get into trouble over if we only have Pre-K3 at the FPC site; an LA-4 classroom of Pre-K4 kids would help the “fungibility” of LFNO funds spent on the FPC site immensely.

Lastly, I heard through the grapevine that we have lost several LFNO advocates (and applicants btw) because the word on the street is that several Board members are LFNO parents… JM, CM, and PS qualify as such.

Saleun then forwarded the email to the other board members and, according to several board members on both sides of the situation interviewed for this article, a general discussion began about how to handle Kelly’s email. Kelly said Tuesday morning that his use of the term “bitchslap” was only intended in a colloquial, verbal sense that Saleun needed a reprimand for her handling of the second grade issue.

“Was the intent any way shape or form physical? Absolutely not,” Kelly said.

[Update, 3:25 p.m.: To see Kelly’s letter of apology to the board, click here.]

Ultimately, board chair Jean Montes sent a letter to Kelly asking for his resignation, and stating that if he declined to step down, the board would vote to remove him at the next meeting — which requires a 2/3 majority, according to the school’s bylaws.

Executive session
At Monday night’s meeting, the board was met with an unusually large audience of 15 to 20 people, many of them parents still concerned about the future of interim general director Jean-Jacques Grandiere while the board advertises for a permanent replacement for former principal Jill Otis. Montes welcomed the parents, and after hearing about 15 minutes’ worth of reports from school staff members, the board entered a closed-door executive session to discuss “personnel matters.”

Inside the executive session, according to the board members interviewed for the article, discussion of Kelly’s future on the board resumed. Kelly told the board that he felt his apology to them for his words was sufficient, and that he had no intention of resigning.

“I do not think that my behavior publicly or behind closed doors merits a resignation,” Kelly said Tuesday.

Montes said that it became clear that not enough board members would vote to remove Kelly, so the matter was to be dropped.

“We came out of the session with the understanding that he was not willing to resign and the board was not willing to do it, so it was a moot point,” Montes said in an interview Tuesday morning.

Board member Kenneth Charity, however, said no such conclusion was reached, and that the position of the board was not determined.

After about 40 minutes, the board returned to the public meeting. Montes then held a brief question-and-answer period with parents, assuring them that Grandiere is a candidate for the general director position, but that it must be publicly advertised. He also vowed that the board plans to increase its communication with parents, after being asked about the transparency of its decision making.

The meeting appeared close to its conclusion, when Charity said that he had a motion to remove a board member. He received a second from Saleun, and without stating the name of any board members, he told the audience that one board member had sent an email to another that was “very derogatory,” and that because of the extreme nature of it, he believed the author of the email should no longer be on the board.

Klingler (the intended recipient of the email) intervened at one point, saying that Charity’s comments were “out of order,” but Montes allowed Charity to call a vote. Charity, Montes, Saleun and board secretary Catherine MacPhaille voted to remove the board member, while Kelly, Klingler and board treasurer Hema Banangada voted “no.” (Former board chair Andrew Abrams was absent.) Well short of the 2/3 majority needed, the motion failed, and the meeting quickly ended.

Resignation
On Tuesday morning, Charity resigned from the board.

Montes said he requested Charity’s resignation because he acted against the consensus agreed upon in the executive session, and because of further conversations following the meeting that he did not feel at liberty to disclose.

“His judgment was called into question,” Montes said.

Charity, however, said Tuesday morning that he was not asked to resign, but did it of his own accord as a rebuke for the board’s secrecy in the entire matter.

“The situation is just an atrocity,” Charity said. “They’re really undermining the dynamics of the board and the school. It’s a matter of censorship, it’s a matter of control, it’s a matter of not being transparent. It’s a matter of standing for principle whether you have the votes or not.”

Further, by not punishing Kelly, Charity said the board essentially deems the language in the email as acceptable.

“We do nothing but undermine the idea of how we are supposed to conduct ourselves, especially when it’s an institution of learning for children,” Charity said. “I don’t want my daughter to be subjected to that, but if it does, I want there to be a system that deals with it.”

Finally, Charity said that he believed the issue directly relates to the concerns raised by the parents who attended the meeting.

“The issues with the leadership of the school right now, all of these things are creating a major problem that parents were asking about last night,” Charity said. “I was representing the children and the parents and the non-status quo by bringing it forward, to force us to be accountable for what transpired. I broke the code of silence. I will continue to break the code of silence, and that was the correct thing to do.”

Fallout
Charity’s resignation brings the board’s number to seven, which is still greater than the five required by the LFNO bylaws. Montes said he doesn’t plan to seek a replacement for Charity immediately, but to focus the board on the school’s greater tasks of finishing the general director hiring process and moving into a new building in the fall while doubling the student population.

“Ultimately we all want to have a great situation here, where we can focus on governance issues that lead the school toward its vision,” Montes said.

Down the line, especially as the board creates new committees for various functions, Montes said the board may select some new members.

“If along the way that have some people that fit well with us, whether parents or people from the community, we’ll consider them,” Montes said.

Kelly said he regretted Charity’s resignation, and that he hopes the board can now begin to move forward as well. “I’m ready to work with any board members on any topic on a professional basis,” Kelly said.

But several issues remain unresolved. Kelly’s email references significant issues before the board that have previously not been discussed publicly, such as the proper role of parents on the school board, the division surrounding the addition of the second grade, and concerns about the relationship between the tuition-based pre-kindergarten and the finances of the public charter school.

Further, the board may have contradicted state open-meetings law in any of several ways. First, any decisions reached by the board prior to the meeting by email may violate the “Right to Observe” enshrined in the state open-meetings law, as the state Attorney General has previously opined that no such activity can take place by telephone:

If a quorum of the Council or a committee thereof contacts each other by telephone for the purpose of discussing or deciding on a course of action on a matter over which it has authority, this would be considered a circumvention of the open meetings laws.

Further, any agreement by the board reached during executive session about Kelly would be improper, as no decisions on votes are allowed to be discussed in closed-door sessions, according to the state Attorney General’s office:

Executive sessions are permitted for discussion only. The public body cannot take any poll, straw vote or final or binding action in Executive Session.

Finally, state law clearly requires “public comment at any meeting of the school board prior to taking any vote.” While Montes did hold a 10-minute dialogue during the meeting — even taking questions from the audience, which is above the law’s requirements — no public comment was solicited on the issue of removing a board member.

Asked about the open-meetings issues after Monday’s board meeting, Montes said he would research the issue and correct the board’s procedures as needed.

To read the full text of Charity’s resignation letter (with email addresses redacted), click here. To read our live coverage of Monday’s meeting, see the box below.

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  58 Responses to “Lycee Francais board member resigns after effort to remove another”

  1. Serious! What a joke of a meeting and board!
    What was BESE thinking?

    • Have you attended other board meetings? Im sure people make stupid comments when they think the comments are private. Tom Klingler worked tirelessly to open this school when Andrew lmost died. He was not responsiple for a e-mail sent to him. The person that sent the e-mail did a stupid thing but is a tireless worker for the school and is always the first one there to do anything for the school. ( paint,put down tile etc.) Sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover.

  2. I am a very happy parent at LFNO and I feel my child is receiving an excellent education. Mr. Grandiere is doing an excellent job of leading the school after the resignation of Ms. Otis, and we were not saddened to see Ms. Otis go, as we rarely ever saw her presence at the Zoo site and felt like Mr. Grandiere was already the “leader” of the school.

    Onto the issue of this posting – wow. I am shocked and dismayed that the board didn’t unanimously vote to oust Mr. Kelly after such a remark about another board member. I find that behavior unacceptable and should not be tolerated. I see there are many other issues going on here that I haven’t yet formed an opinion about, but I wanted to say, as a Lycee parent, I am VERY disappointed that Klingler and Banangada did not vote, “YES” to oust Mr. Kelly and am shocked that they find that type of behavior acceptable by a fellow board member and toward a fellow board member.

    If I received an email like such from a co-worker, I would take it to H.R. and I am sure, that employee would be fired.

    Klingler and Banangada should be ashamed of themselves – wonder what they would vote if someone wrote that each of them should be, “b*tch-slapped?”

  3. seriously. when will the tent collapse on this circus? this board needs some fresh blood. agreed that parents of LFNO students should be removed.

  4. …. and to think the beloved and respected CDP nursery school was asked to leave their home at First Presbyterian Church of 35 years in order to make room for this school.

    • actually there were a lot of issues between CDP and FPC. Issues that where never brought out to the public about CDP which FPC could have announced but, to keep a good reputation for CDP. FPC gave them the opportunity to leave with grace.

  5. “Bitchslap” is a very UNPROFESSIONAL and INAPPROPRIATE word to use in a professional and, I would hope, INTELLIGENT environment. If this sort of “colloquial, verbal sense” language is used, I would have to wonder about the standards of the school as a whole, especially with the rest of the board not speaking up and out. It was indeed a “second grade issue” STAND UP FOR FOR WHAT IS RIGHT!!! I find Mr. Kelly disgusting and I DARE him to try to bitchslap ME…but I find it HILARIOUS that he had to ask someone to do it FOR him…pathetic!!!

  6. I don’t know much about school boards so am curious why parents shouldn’t be on them. They seem the most likely and most invested candidates. ?

  7. Seriously, someone should contact Bravo about developing a reality show documenting the drama that goes on at LFNO. This can’t be good for recruitment, especially considering all the other options for French language immersion programs in NOLA.

  8. I’m glad I don’t have to decide whether to back Paige Saleun or Allen Kelly. That’s a no-win situation for sure.

    • So all in all, a scary cast of characters: one who thinks it’s ok to use abusive language, and another who thinks it’s ok to advertise her restaurant by poaching the entire email list of the school to send her newsletters to. And this is just what’s in the open! Who knows what else lurks behind the scenes? One thing’s for sure: if they don’t do everything they can to keep the current administration, parents will walk. It’s not too late. I hope the ethics board can clean this group up before they destroy this precious school.

  9. As an LFNO parent I must say that the teachers and staff, and especially Mr Grandiere have done an amazing job this year. My preschool child is very happy and yes, speaks and understands French already. Considering this was the first year of the school, I am very impressed. This is why I’m keeping my child there next year, otherwise…

    I am disgusted with the politics at this school. Everyone started out unified but now they’re all jockeying for a power position – exactly like the folks they despise at other immersion schools and charter schools. Remember how we were all looking down our noses at Audubon Charter going at each others throats last year? Not so different now are they?

    Allen Kelly has been an embarrassment from the start. This is not the first time he has said something offensive and insulting. He not only talks to board members that way, but parents and school staff too. He is an egomaniac and is the reason for many of the board’s pettier arguments. I have no idea what this man brings to the table. Why anyone would vote to keep him on the board confounds me. He is not the direction anyone wants the school to go in.

    I put my faith in Mr Grandiere and his cool head, and hope he’s given an even bigger role next year. I pray the school rides out this immature drama and emerges strong. I look forward to the new location next year, and hope to see the school reach its high school goals.

    Finally, the immersion community is too small here to be so manipulative, petty, and back-stabbing. It’s like being on Game Of Thrones. I am very proud of the accomplishments of Audubon, Ecole Bilingue, ISL and the others. MY goal is to see more bilingual kids in Nola! Keep it positive people!

    • From what I understand, much of the infighting that occured at Audubon Charter School last year was caused by the same people who are now fighting at Lycee. It seems like the problem just sort of “spread.”

  10. Louis, please do not beleive all the garbage you read. Those ladies do not know what they are talking about. As for the board….. It sounds like alot of hidden agendas. Who can kiss butt to get to the top. Why did the email have to be public, when there are private meetings going on? As for the second grade, who decided that???? A parent on the board? A friend of a friend? Does one have to have $ to be on the board? And how about vote for pres, vice pres. Etc. when there were no one they were up against. We were also told the kindergarteners this year would also be the first to graduate. Why not give them that? As fr as lunches go, what free lunch? There is no cafeteria.parents send their kids to school with lunch boxes. And by the way, there are “poor” kids at lfno..

    • Hey,wait a minute here. The Kindergarten class will be the first to graduate. They graduate from Kindergarten next Monday.

  11. Here is another article that these ladies wrote in October. Some of these issues have been addressed–but some still are present and once again the board does not conduct real business in addressing the “REAL” issues at hand!

    The Deception of the “Lottery” at Lycee Francais and Audubon Schools
    The Misuse of Charter Schools – Part II
    Dr. Barbara Ferguson and Karran Harper Royal
    Research on Reforms, Inc.
    October 2011
    Charter schools are tuition-free, independently-operated public schools that admit students based on a lottery if more apply than can be accommodated. However, the lottery is skewed at Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans Charter School and Audubon Charter School, each located in uptown New Orleans. Lycee Francais’ pre-kindergarten children, whose parents pay $4,570 tuition, are able to re-enroll into the tuition-free kindergarten, skipping any lottery. At Audubon, children whose parents pay $9,050 for a private pre-kindergarten, enter Tier 1 of the lottery and enroll first into the tuition-free kindergarten. Charter schools are to be open and accessible to all children. Skewing the lottery in favor of children whose parents are able to pay for pre-kindergarten is a misuse of the charter school concept.
    Why is there a lottery requirement for charter schools?
    To understand why there is a lottery begins with first understanding the reason for charter schools. Decades ago, congress enacted a federal lawi through which funds were provided to close the achievement gap between the disadvantaged and those who were not. And for decades, various programs were developed and funded to attain this goal, but to no avail. When the federal law was re-enacted as No Child Left Behind (NCLB)ii, charter schools were introduced as a way of reducing the achievement gap. Since most disadvantaged students come from large city schools, and since city school systems are notoriously bureaucratic, the idea was to abandon the centralized governance in favor of more site-based governance, i.e., charter schools.iii
    Thus, parents would no longer have to send their children to the failing neighborhood school operated by a bureaucratic central office; they could opt to send their children to an independently-operated charter school.
    Knowing that parents would now have this choice, the federal law incorporated ways to make this choice fair to all students who wanted to attend charter schools. Thus, the lotteryiv
    was mandated as the fair way to give all children an equal chance of being accepted into a charter school. First, a deadline for applications is established. Then, a random lottery is held if more children apply than can be accommodated.
    Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans Charter School
    Lycee Francais is a charter school that opened this year (2011-2012) in uptown New Orleans with prekindergarten and kindergarten. It is a Type 2 charter school, meaning it was authorized by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
    According to its charter application, pre-kindergarten tuition would be $4,570 per year, and the school would include a tuition-free kindergartenv. The application said that Lycee Francais would also apply to La4 to fund spaces in the pre-kindergarten for free and reduced price lunch
    children. The La4 funds are limited. Lycee Francais did not receive any La4 funds.vi
    Lycee Francais did not chose to use Title I NCLB funds to pay for a pre-kindergarten for the disadvantaged. Thus pre-kindergarten became strictly for those who could pay $4,570, i.e., a private pre-kindergarten attached to public charter school kindergarten.
    In its charter application to BESE, Lycee Francais stated that “no tuition will be charged for disadvantaged Pre-K 4 children, that is, those who fall under the free and reduced price guidelines.” This statement in their application implies that the pre-kindergarten program will admit disadvantaged students. However, the enrollment flyers distributed in the community do not mention any information about a tuition-free PreK-4 program for children who fall under the free and reduced price guidelines.vii
    The admission process, within Lycee Francais’ charter application, addresses both a lottery and re-enrollment:
    • Lottery: “Applications will be numbered on a first-come, first-serve basis. If there are more applications than seats available, a lottery will be conducted.”viii
    • Re-enrollment: “A March date will be identified for Lycee Francais students to re-enroll for the following year. Parents will be required to fill out a re-enrollment form.”
    ix
    Since pre-kindergarten students are listed as Lycee Francais students on the charter application, and since the above re-enrollment procedure states that Lycee Francais students can re-enroll for the next year, it follows that the pre-kindergarten students who paid nearly $5,000 tuition can re-enroll and circumvent the lottery, thereby granting a preference to children of those able to afford pre-kindergarten.
    According to an administrator in the charter school office, Lycee Francais is operating a private day care, approved by the Department of Family and Children Services.x
    Since Lycee Francais has included this pre-kindergarten program as an entry level grade into the kindergarten, this means that a tuition program grants access to a tuition-free charter school. This defies what the US Department of Education has to say about such circumstances:
    “A tuition-based private preschool program that becomes a public charter school at the kindergarten level cannot permit children enrolled in the preschool program to continue in the elementary program without going through the lottery process. The preschool program is private, charges tuition, and most likely does not admit all students. Thus, allowing its students to gain admission to the elementary program without going through a lottery process would violate No Child Left Behind.”xi
    Louisiana’s charter school office has responded to questions regarding this matter by saying that “pre-kindergarten children will not simply be able to re-enroll, rather, they will have to participate in the lottery to enter kindergarten.” xii
    1. Pre-kindergarten is an entry level grade to kindergarten, and However, this requirement is not contained within the charter application, which states that:
    2. Pre-kindergarten students are Lycee Francais students, and
    3. Lycee Francais students can re-enroll.
    Additional Issues:
    Private Daycare Approved in Charter Application
    One issue that surfaces is whether the pre-kindergarten at Lycee-Francais should have been approved by BESE as a part of the Lycee-Francais charter school, since it charges tuition, thus making it private rather than public. According to a Louisiana Department of Education spokesperson, the pre-kindergarten is “a private day care center registered with the DCFS.” xiii
    Lycee Francais’ application lists the pre-kindergarten as an entry level grade into the Lycee-Francais Charter school. Yet, the pre-kindergarten is actually a private daycare operating at the same site as the charter school. In its application to BESE, Lycee Francais indicates that both pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students are Lycee Francais students, and states that those grades are the charter school’s entry level grades.xiv
    Private Day Care Funded with Federal Charter School Grant
    Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans received a federal charter school grant in the amount of $139,782 for the 2011-12 year.xv
    According to federal grant guidelines, these funds must be used only for charter schools that comply with the federal definition of a charter school. The federal definition as found in No Child Left Behind (NCLB) states that charter schools must be tuition-free.
    However, the Lycee Francais charter school grant of $139,782 will pay for the private pre-kindergarten. In the “Plan for Use of Funds,” Lycee Francais lists costs for classroom furniture, supplies and other pre-kindergarten expenditures.xvi
    The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved this grant even though federal guidelines require all funds distributed through the Federal Charter Start Up grant to be spent on tuition-free charter schools. In the case of Lycee Francais, these are public funds being used for private purposes.
    Audubon Charter School
    Just like Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans charter school, Audubon Charter School has arranged for pre-kindergarten children, who are enrolled in an expensive private pre-kindergarten, to skip the lottery.
    Audubon Charter School existed prior to Hurricane Katrina and was named Audubon Montessori School.xviiixvii It was a magnet school that selected its student body. At the time of the state takeover in 2004-05, Audubon had a School Performance Score of 113.1, which was well above the state average of 87.4. Thus, Audubon was not among the schools taken-over by the state. However, both the failing schools that were taken-over, and the non-failing schools
    that remained with the Orleans Parish School Board were targeted to become charter schools, in contradiction to Louisiana law, which created charter schools for at-risk students. Even though Audubon was not a failing school at the time of the takeover, and even though the choice of which children attended Audubon was the choice of the school, not that of the parents, Audubon was converted to a Type 3 charter school, simply because that was the way things were done after Katrina.
    At Audubon Charter School, there is a two-tiered lottery system, which is skewed to accept children in Tier 1. A child who attends pre-kindergarten at an accredited French school enters into Tier 1 lottery.xix The accredited private French school, Ecole Bilingue, has a pre-kindergarten with a yearly tuition of $9,050.00 for full day.xx
    In its 2005 charter application, Audubon Charter School stated that a lottery will be used “if the school has a surplus of students qualifying for admission.” Thus, children whose parents can afford to pay for this expensive pre-kindergarten have first access to kindergarten at Audubon Charter School.
    xxi The application does not address what is actually used, which is not simply a lottery, but a Tier 1 and a Tier 2 lottery. In its flyer, Audubon states that there are two lotteries for kindergarten: Tier 1 and Tier 2. The flyer advises that “Tier 1 students will fill any available slots first,” and that Tier 1 students are those “transferring from an accredited French school.” xxii
    Concerns about the PreK 4 Deception Thus, children who attend the private pre-kindergarten have first access to kindergarten at Audubon.
    There is a place in New Orleans, a diverse city, for diversity of schools. Renewed governance was long overdue in New Orleans. A return to how the school system operated prior to Katrina is not even an option. However, building a dual system of charter schools, and pretending that all charter schools are similarly situated is not the answer either.
    • There is a dual system of charter schools in New Orleans.
    • No Child Left Behind requires equal access for all charter schools. Yet, in New Orleans there are the (1) selective charters, and the (2) open admission (equal access) charters.
    • Lycee Francais and Audubon select kindergarten children based upon their parents’ ability to pay for an expensive pre-kindergarten. They are not equal access schools, yet they have received federal charter school funding.
    Conclusion
    Some charter schools are becoming instruments for educating only a select group of students, as in the case of Lycee Francais and Audubon. These are not the equal access charter schools defined in No Child Left Behind. Allowing charter schools to select kindergarten students based
    upon the wealth of the parents to pay for an expensive pre-kindergarten is a misuse of the charter school concept.
    Endnotes
    i ESEA: The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Public law 89-10, 79 Stat.27, 20USC70). ESEA was passed as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” which aims to shorten the achievement gaps between students by providing each child with equal opportunities to achieve an exceptional education.
    ii NCLB: No Child Left Behind (Public Law 107-110). On January 8, 2002, President George Bush signed into law the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
    iii NCLB, Title V, Part B: Charter Schools. Section 5203: Each state agency desiring a charter school grant shall submit to the US Department of Education an application containing . . . “a description of how each child in the community will be given an equal opportunity to attend the charter school.”
    iv NCLB, Title V, Part B: Charter Schools. Section 5210: “The term ‘charter school’ means a public school that . . . (f) does not charge tuition, and ;. . . (h) admits students on the basis of a lottery if more children apply for admission than can be accommodated.”
    v Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans: Application for Type 2 charter submitted to the Board of Elementary states that Lycee Francais will charge tuition for its Pre-K 3 and Pre-K 4 programs. ( p. 45) In its application for charter school grant funds, Lycee Francais does not say that it intends to charge tuition for prekindergarten. It simply says, “The curriculum begins at the pre-kindergarten level and continues through 12th grade.” (p. 2).
    vi La Department of Education, LA4 Program Funds, Department of Early Childhood Programs.
    vii Lycee Francais: Flyers- See Appendix A and Appendix B.
    viii Lycee Francais charter application submitted to BESE: “Applications will be numbered on a first-come, first serve basis. If there are more applications than seats available, a lottery will be conducted.” (p.46)
    ix Lycee Francais charter application submitted to BESE: “A March date will be indentified for LFNO students to re-enroll for the following school year.” (p. 47)
    x “The school registered with DCFS to operate a private day care center.” Email from Raphael Gang, La Dept of Education, Office of Parental Options, September 28, 2011.
    xi United States Department of Education, Charter School Program, Non-regulatory Guidance.
    xii In response to the question of whether the prekindergarten children in the tuition prekindergarten program have the first right of enrollment into the tuition-free kindergarten, this response was received, via email, from Raphael Gang on September 28, 2011: “ No, they do not. It’s a completely new enrollment process that cannot preference students in the pay preschool.”
    xiii See Endnote X.
    xiv Lycee Francais Charter School Application to BESE. (p. 8)
    xv In its federal charter school grant application, Lycee Francais does not say that prekindergarten charges tuition. (Charter schools must be tuition-free to receive federal funding.) It states that Lycee Francais “will have space for 135 pre-K through Kindergarten students the first year.” (P. 6 of application for federal funds.) What it does not say is that the majority of these students will attend the tuition prekindergarten. Lycee Francais received a $139,782 grant for 2011-12. Application submitted by Lycee Francais: Public Charter School Program, CFDA#84.282A.
    xvi Plan for Use of Funds Chart, attached to Lycee Francais application for federal charter school funds.
    xvii District Composite Report, Orleans Parish Schools, 2004-05, Audubon Montessori School, Code 036005.
    xviii Ibid.
    xix Audubon Admission Process.
    xx Ecole Bilingue de la Nouvelle Orleans, 2011-12 Tuition and Fees, See Appendix C.
    xxi Audubon Charter School Application, December 2005, Section VI: School Policies, p. 44: “If the school has a surplus of students qualifying for admission, a lottery will be used to determine acceptance.”
    xxii Audubon Charter School Admission Process, See Appendix D.
    APPENDICES A – D:

    • I am the parent of a child that attended the zoo campus of Lycee this year. I have read several derogatory and negative comments all year and have had enough. First of all, Louie, for your information, MY FAMILY IS NOT WEALTHY-far from it! My child entered the program as a kindergartener, as did all of the kindergarteners, therefore, ability to pay for the “expensive pre-k 3 and pre-k 4 program” as you put it WAS NEVER an issue for any of the families of the 60 children in kindergarten this year. Moreover, and very important to point out, pre-k’ers ARE NOT guaranteed a spot in kindergarten. They go into a lottery pool with anyone else that is applying for a kindergarten slot. When the school was trying to find a suitable vendor for a lunch program, free/reduced lunch forms were passed out. I filled mine out and surely would have received benefits from the program as would other families there. Unfortunately, an affordable lunch program did not pan out, therefore, we all packed lunches this year. If cost wasn’t an issue for so many of us, we could have had a vendor but it was cheaper for families to provide their child with meals from home. Sure, does my child attend school with people that have more money than us, yes, of course. Does my child attend school with people that have less than we do, ABSOLUTELY! This situation is no different than any other public school, not just in Orleans, but in any parish. You and all the others are quick to judge Lycee, not by the good that it has brought to our children, but rather by anything negative you can drum up. Name one other school that has no issues at all. Look at school board members, city council members, members of Congress; are any of them lacking similar issues? NO! Ultimately, Lycee is a great school that is serving students whose parents have one thing in common that race and socioeconomic backgrounds have nothing to do with–we all are seeking a good, bilingual education for our children-nothing more and nothing less. This option is available through Lycee to anyone in the entire state! Many families will not seek out a spot at Lycee regardless of race or wealth because they don’t want to put forth the extra effort it may take to aid a bilingual child with homework or to get them to school everyday. As for Lycee kicking other schools out of their buildings, I guess you assume that the Churches affiliated with these properties had nothing to do with this decision?? If the previous tenants were good ones, would the property owners have been so quick to “kick” them out and give Lycee a lease?? You include a lot of statutes and jargon in your comments, but until you are able to make factual statements that are completely unbiased, you really should keep your opinion to yourself, because afterall, it is only an opinion. My problem with your comments and others like it is that none of you realize the hard work and dedication of the administration and wonderful teachers that have been hired. Mr. Grandiere works tirelessly. He answered all emails and was happy to talk to parents about the program on his personal time months before there was a staff last spring. He is consistently seen at both campuses and is always receptive to parental insights and suggestions. As for Mr. Kelly, he only wants the best for the school and that email says nothing about his desire to provide a great education for the kids. As for Ms. Saleun, she is energetic and has wonderful ideas about a healthy lunch program for Lycee. People will not always see eye to eye or get along and I see the situation as a blip in the road. As a school in its first year, we could have expected much more drama than this. Things have run pretty smoothly from day 1 and with continued parental support from all of us, that come together like a family regardless of our backgrounds, and diligence by the administration, they will continue as such.

  12. Judging from the grammar in this article, Ms. Harper-Royal could have benefited from a Lycee Francais education as a child. As usual, she only proves through her froth-mouthed verbage she is only interested in advancing her own ego. ::Whew:: That lady sure does live on Planet Conspiracy. As for Dr. Sanders, he should not sully his doctorate sharing any writing with the likes of her.

  13. inappropriate language – no room for that of course in a professional setting.

    What concerns me most is the “fungibility” issue, the inappropriate use of public funds. Who is in charge of investigating the misuse of funds, the state department of education? I want to forward this email to the appropriate government department.

    • Allen Kelly suggesting that is absolutely no indication that the school, or anyone else, would do it. You don’t see sexist, vulgar language from the rest of them – and you won’t see them treating public funds inappropriately, either.

    • The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. BESE. You will have to drive to Baton Rouge to speak in opposition, as almost all BESE meetings regarding state charter school matters are heard in Baton Rouge. This is another offensive matter entirely. I think you can find their e-mail addresses on line.

    • Dear Guest,

      The misappropriation of public funds, MFP dollars, violates state law. I believe it is considered a felony offense. Those monies can only be used for K-12 students and cannot be used to support pre-K programs. Kelly’s infamous email suggests that MFP funds were used for pre-K. Consider this. The state only reimburses a school $4500 per year per child for children that have been designated as at-risk. It now costs about around $7000 to educate pre-K children. The state sets the parameters for what a school can charge for pre-K based upon what it is willing to pay for at-risk students. So if a charter school decides to take on a pre-K program, it has to accept the liability associated with the insufficient funds. The differential the school must raise is around $2500 per child. Lycee has decided to expand its pre-K 3 program from 2 to 3 classes, and its pre-K 4 program from 2 to 4 classes. It does not matter that the state pays the $4500 for the at-risk students as it still costs an additional $2500 to educate them. However, additional Federal funds, if any, would apply to those students costs. Suppose LFNO has no at-risk students in pre-K 4. If I am right, about the number of classes, LFNO will have to come up with 140 (20 students per class x 5 classes) times $2500 or an additional $350,000. I would like to know where the school is going to get that money. They had to have had the same problem this school year with only 80 students to the tune of an additional $200,000. The school must pay for administrative, clerical, teacher and teacher aides’ salaries and benefits, plus the school will have the additional cost of instructional materials, desks, chairs, etc to be purchased, and oh so much more. That is generally packaged at 20%. The employee packages count for about 80% of any school’s budget. The costs might be slightly off, but common sense would dictate that significant additional monies (around $200,000) to support the pre-K program were needed, and those dollars surely did not drop from the sky.

      • Ms Van Buskirk,

        Please contact Dr. Barbara Fergusson. She has the spread sheets, from the records she requested back in October, to prove to that the MFP dollar were mis used on Pre school materials and that this was inapropriate. . BESE refuses to address the issue because they awadred and allowed the funds to be misapropriated through lack of oversite!!!. Dr. Fergusson stands by her article completely. Dr Fergusson is also aware that this school is slyly using selective admissions. This again is everything charter schools are not supposed to do, This school is operating not as a public school, but a private school using public funds and they do not seem to be reaching out if you look at their racial, special needs and free and reduced lunch breakdown. Specail needs is not just supposed to be gifted and speach either. The excuse from LFNO gives for these numbers is that they just opened. NOT good enough, deplorable anwer as this is very intintional cherry picking to keep up a precedence and reputation as a white school SO wrong on so many levels. Please help stop this. New Orleans dose not need another black eye on our city reguarding racism and the French school system should not be labeled racist due to these practices either. This hurts all French schools when one behaves as such. The NAACP is now on to this school too. Have you seen the latest article in the New Orleans tribune about this school being less than eight percent black and the misuse of funds? Very telling. BESE needs to wake up and create schools for ALL kids.

        Thank you,
        Kally

        • Kally,

          These situations are happening in other Charter schools. After this legislative session, additional charter schools will be created willy nilly throughout the state with lower standards and no monitoring. It would behoove all of us to contact our BESE members and legislators to express our alarm in regard to the lack of oversight of these institutions. I would encourage all to write letters to Jindal’s appointee, John White, the new state superintendent of education in regard to these issues. He seems to be making important decisions re: charter schools by shooting from the hip. I am very disappointed that given he is the “new kid on the block”, he is not requiring background information from his staff before making risky, uninformed decisions. Our universities are drowning in red ink and bleeding academically from budget cuts. This situation could have been resolved last year if the governor had not been running throughout the country electioneering. These kind of things happen when too much power is ceded to a governor that is trying to outperform his Republican gubernatorial colleagues in hopes of securing a Vice Presidential nomination. Power and ambition corrupt even good people.

          In years to come this state will face the impossible task of trying to fix the mess that Jindal has done to public education in the name of achieving his life’s dream – the presidency. The man has too much power, and a majority of our citizenry have handed it to him. Too bad for us, but this is what happens when citizens ignore warning signs of an administration that is cloaked in secrecy and outright rejects transparency. Keeping citizens ignorant is the best way to run roughshod over the electorate and do what benefits you, not the people. Our legislators have forgotten that the legislative branch of government is separate and apart from the executive branch. Due to the aforementioned there are no checks and balances in Louisiana government. Even more outrageous, our legislature is so weak that it permits the governor to choose its leadership. We can hang this charter school mess at the door step of the governor, his handpicked superintendent, and his legislative minions. If things look bad today, just brace for tomorrow. The next three years look bleak.

      • Since you were present from the very beginning at the initial meetings and plannings for this school, and I don’t beliveve you left hating any of the board members, why don’t you pick up a phone and ask some of these questions that your are concerned about ? It’ totally inappropriate to throw around words such as misappropriation of funds and felony when you might not have all the facts. Everyone needs to settle down and remember that the only goal is to make this a wonderful school. Though you resigned because you thought some board members had ulterior motives, let’s not forget,that in the end and in spite of these people Lycee has been a wonderful school so far. Maybe the board members with ulterior motives will one day be satisfied with knowing that they were one of the initial planners of a French Charter School and not I started a school for my kids to go attend.

        • Bernie,

          No need to pick up the phone to ask questions of board members. Read my comment again. I did not say that the board misappropriated monies, but said that Mr. Kelly’s email to your friend Tom suggested that it might have occurred and might happen in the future if additional measures were not put in to place. Please do not put words into my mouth. If misuse of monies did occur, the practice needs to stop now. Perhaps the board needs to review Dr. Barbara Ferguson’s report in regard to this issue. In the end Bernie, I just expect the board to act responsibly in spending hard earned taxpayer money. They are operating under a public trust, and ignorance is no excuse for poor decision making. I, too, want nothing but the best for this school, and only the board can make that happen. That is why it is of utmost importance that this board act with transparency and inclusion.

          • If you re-read my message Joy, I only mentioned throwing the words felony and misappropriation around . I did not say anywhere that YOU claimed the board misapropriated monies.

          • Bernie,

            Although you might not understand, there was a method to my madness.

  14. Mr. Morris,
    I find it interesting yet in poor taste to have kept Mr. Kelly’s email and added his apology to the board but have removed a previously posted link to Mr. Charity’s resignation letter (which I read earlier). Mr.Charity’s actions at the meeting were as reprehensible as the other board members involved in this debacle. He was apparently asked to move on from the subject but refused thus creating more embarrassment for this school. I attended the meeting and the end of it was much worse than you have portrayed here.

    • Camellia, the link to Mr. Charity’s letter is still at the end of the article in the same place it originally was.

  15. I take it back. Saw resignation letter at very bottom. But I still don’t think you told the whole story about the tension caused at the end of the meeting

  16. Isn’t LFNO’s 4 year old Pre-K tuition based too? There is no sliding scale and no LA4 Funding that I know of. I am not sure how Mr. Kelley’s solution of moving the private 4 year Pre-k to the FPC campus will solve the misuse of funds issue. Unless he is suggesting that the 4 year old pre k tuition added to 3 year prek tuition might keep that boat floating… Keeping the financial boats afloat and the balls up in the air (if you prefer the circus metaphor) seems to be the issue here. I don’t understand why there is still no concern about the discrimination that a private pre-k, with no sliding scale or LA 4 funding options creates. To me that is the saddest part of this whole thing… A school created to naturally eliminate a large cross section of people.

  17. As a parent of two kids at ISL, another “off-shoot” of Audubon, I can say that I can only imagine that starting a school from scratch is difficult. It takes years for a school to settle into a culture. I am grateful to have come onboard when the school was 8 years old. I do not know what the early years were like, but I have heard parents from the first graduating classes complain and bicker a lot over the years. It appears that the original mission is a hard thing to live up to. It is a work in progress. I believe that the founders of charters truly intend to offer the promises made in the mission…. then they run into reality and a variety of circumstances that may make that difficult. I think we all need to keep that in mind. I hope for the best for LFNO. You just got a campus that you are ready to fill with happy kids. Have a great year!

  18. I am appalled at the condoning of this language and attitude towards another board member. If Mr. Kelly is allowed to use inappropriate and disgusting language towards another board member without any consequence, then this governing body is setting a bad precedence. It is just unprofessional. I do not know what loyalties the board has to Mr. Kelly but the board should have unanimously voted for the removal of Mr. Kelly.

    In addition, it appears that the board has violated the state’s open meeting laws. If the board would like to move forward in a positive manner then some corrective measures should be taken to right the ship.

    Furthermore, Mr. Charity should be commended for standing up for the right thing and it is refreshing that a person can stand on principal and not be guided or ruled by hidden agendas. Someone with that type of integrity and commitment to transparency such as Mr. Charity was an asset to the board and the children of LFNO.

  19. What a sad commentary, (Lycee Board Member Resigns), on a school that was initially created to provide a quality French education for all children of New Orleans. Three parents are the founding members – Chachie Dupuy, who had the good sense to resign from the Board more than a year ago, as she believed there would be a conflict of interest if she remained; Allen Kelly whose children will be attending Lycee in the future; and Paige Saleun whose children will be attending Lycee in August, and, perhaps one of her children is a second grader. There may be some who think that it is okay for parents to serve in such a capacity (as a board member), but I disagree. Personal agendas always get in the way, and I was privy to that observation while participating in writing the LFNO charter. Decisions must be made based upon what is best and right for all children, not a few.

    I referred to this board as a “runaway” board in my comments concerning one of the last articles in regard to Lycee. I was so wrong. This board is well beyond that. This board is imploding from within, and unfortunately, may well bring this school down. It is time for the parents to demand answers. The answers will not come from a PTO meeting, as the board is not required to attend such. The answers must be sought at a LFNO Board meeting. There should be at least one hundred parents attending the next board meeting to send the message that parents demand transparency in the decision making process for this school. It is time that parents organize and act. That will require a few parents taking on the leadership role and coordinating this effort. There should be a written document submitted to the board outlining the parents’ concerns with the expectation that the Board will respond to each and every issue. It would be best to write a letter to the Board President ten days prior to the next meeting, which is the second Monday of each month, identifying those concerns and asking for time on the board’s agenda to speak to such issues. It is not required in law that the board provide time to hear parent’s concerns, but in the sake of transparency, it would be very unwise for the Board to deny such a request. All parents should attend every board meeting.

    The most important issue in regard to transparency is that the board be required to place the LFNO charter on its website. Parents need to know what is in the charter. If parents do not know what is in the charter, then they are handicapped in understanding the decision making process of the board, and whether any board decisions violate the terms found in the charter. Not having access to the charter keeps parents ignorant in regard to the expectations identified for the school. More importantly, parents need to read the section on the Board – its By Laws, etc. The board should follow the charter in the hiring and firing of the school’s principal. The board should not be involved in the day to day operation of the school. The board should not interact with the employees, the principal does. The board should follow state law and its charter in hiring employees. The board should not have access to sensitive information such as school records. The board’s only two functions are to select and evaluate the principal, and make policy. Read the section about Board committees. Know what should transpire in regard to them. Board members that chair committees should not hand pick their members – that is unethical. The charter is the school’s blueprint. If the board seeks changes to the charter, it must be done in the form of amendments to the charter through Board motions during a Board meeting, and then submitted to the state for approval before any change can be made. It seems that this board is just making up its own rules, and not following its charter. The Board agendas should explicitly identify all agenda items. The agendas should be posted on every entrance door of each facility 24 hours in advance. Monthly Board minutes are required to be printed for distribution or placed on the website in a timely manner. What lay boards have difficulty realizing is that a public board is required to follow state laws and ignorance of the law is no excuse, and is unacceptable. They are serving as the caretakers of hard-earned tax payer dollars, and under the mantle of the public’s trust. Board members are required to know the laws that govern public entities. The single biggest problem is that boards are not sufficiently trained before the members assume the role of governance for a Charter school.

    The State Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, BESE, have violated the public trust of Louisiana taxpayers by not having a uniform oversight process for Charter Schools under their control. I doubt seriously that any state officials paid a visit to Lycee since its creation. Shame on them. LFNO was chartered by the state and it has an obligation to oversee the school’s operation.

    The state had a policy and practice that it would not permit schools to add grades for two years into its operation. Why? To ensure that the school was viable, was operating efficiently and effectively, and had a track record ensuring academic success. LFNO may have achieved some measure of success in its infancy, but what kind of a record could a school realistically achieve in six months? More importantly, pieces to support that supposed success are missing. Pieces that all public schools are required to have – educating at risk children and children with special needs. These pieces are found in the LFNO charter,. So, how do you adequately compare the success of such a school with a traditional school or any charter school that is following the law? The answer is that you don’t because these schools are not operating on a level playing field. Many can continue to taut the school’s success, but what the school is not doing is providing a quality education for all students in Orleans Parish (which was our initial mission). We bragged that the education that LFNO was to offer would be applicable to all students, and that it would better educate at risk children. Does it? LFNO must actively recruit all students. It is not acceptable to offer the excuse that it is too costly to educate all students. What do you think traditional public schools are required to do with the same funds? What makes Charter schools so special to violate Federal and State laws?

    I am not a parent, but my name is attached to the creation of this school. I have a right to expect that this school is functioning lawfully and conforming with its charter. From all that I have heard and seen, apparently it is not. I cannot force parents to hold the LFNO Board accountable, but if the parents will not, and it seems that they won’t or can’t, I will do so.

    • Thank you Joyous for using your knowlege and history with the school system to confirm what several of us have been saying to anyone whow would listen since August. Perhaps BESE will now take notice, and help this school become what it should be. Namely, a school for children from all races, socio-economic brackets and with different learning capabilities. It can still be a great New Orleans school. I see by what you have said that this has always been your hope. I am glad you are trying to further it.

  20. This board is running hog wild and they need to be checked. LFNO should not be their personal projects or hobbies to dabble in. It should also not be the outlet for their apparent “adolescent messiness.” Yes, bi***slap is unprofessional, but the fallout that resulted over that was even more unprofessional. Time to move on and to focus on the school’s very real leadership and growth issues instead of their own slights to each other. This is a school, not a reality TV show (although it could be). I am beyond disappointed by their behavior.

    I attended that “explosive” board meeting, where I learned that there seems to be some re-organization going on, with only one Director position (before there were 2), and with the teachers filling some type of administrative roles. There is also some type of Advisory Board being formed, with the board members choosing who participates. They are making these plans without parent input, and I am extremely concerned as they already have too much power. They should not be able to reorganize without parent participation.

    As parents, we need to organize, in some way, to make this board accountable. They have been operating very much behind the scenes, seemingly to fulfill their own agendas. It has to stop, and we have to be the ones to stop it.

    • Wendy – I totally get your frustration and I don’t blame you for being upset.

      I think Dr. Montes coming on-board as the new Chairman of the Board is a good thing and I truly believe we will see a lot of transparency with him heading up the Board. I believe, as a parent, we didn’t see that before. Boards, in general, never 100% of the time get along. This is natural. People have different opinions and strong opinions and that’s ok. That’s why they have a voting process and majority wins. I truly believe most members of the board have the best interests of the school in their hearts.

      In previous stories about Lycee, I read some posts where people think parents should not be a part of the Board at the school. I strongly disagree. I think the board structure should be a shared board model where it’s a mix of parents and professionals who all bring something to the table. Personally, I find it reassuring knowing there are a few parents on the Board who have a personal stake in the success of this school and I don’t see anything wrong with that. But a mixture is certainly what I would strive for.

      At this past Board meeting, I attended as a parent of a kindergartner at the school. One of the motions that was passed to was to make the General Director of the school an ex-officio member of the Board. I thought that was a fantastic idea. It ensures an administrative member of the school is always in attendance and in the loop of the goings-on with the Board. I found it upsetting when I saw that 2 Board members voted against that: Tom Klingler and Allen Kelly. It made me wonder, as a parent, why would they vote against that? It doesn’t give the General Director voting rights, but it entitles him/her to be present at the meetings, etc. I think that vote is a step in the right direction toward transparency.

      There are many reasons school boards argue and growth is at the top of the list. There are some people who do not want to add grades and grow the school, or want to grow the school at a snail’s pace and there are others who believe growing the school can and should be done without compromising the excellent education the children receive at Lycee Francais. I believe the ones who want to grow the school are the ones who truly want to, exponentially, reach more children and offer them an excellent education option. The number of children served by the best charter schools is far too low. As a parent, I feel confident that the leadership at the school can and will do what it takes to ensure the integrity of our children’s education remains intact all while the school grows. And, as a parent, I am going to do my part to support the school in whatever capacity I can to not try to make it harder for them, but to help them to succeed. I know it can be done and it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

      I really hope that parents at Lycee realize that a brand new school WILL go through some growing pains, but that is not a bad thing. I also hope that parents who tend to be negative and complain can, instead, turn that energy into something positive and beneficial for the school. And, I do agree, that more parents need to be involved at the school.

      • Zoo parent, did you actually read Wendy’s email? She attended the meeting, which was an absolute fiasco. She noted that the reorganization was mentioned but not directly addressed, and that advisory committees are being formed in which the board member chooses who participates. Does that sound like transparency to you? Does this feel like a fresh new beginning?

        • Future Lycee Parent – I understand people are upset and I respect that and don’t want to cause more upset and I’m not out to be defensive or offensive, but just to work together. Let’s not be accusatory or ugly to one another. No need for that, even if we disagree on something – that’s ok.

          From what I heard at the meeting, there will be a General Director with Directors of the lower school, middle school, high school in the future, after the school gets to that point. For next year, I understood that certain teachers will possibly take on “administrative responsibilities” in the meantime. What does that entail, I don’t know, but the question wasn’t pressed further. However, Dr. Montes DID say and Wendy did re-iterate that there will be an open dialogue between the parents and him at the next PTO meeting – next week – Tuesday at 6:30. I think that’s a start in the right direction and I think Dr. Montes and the Board are trying harder to be transparent.

          When I have a question or concern, I go right to the source and email the Board or the administration directly and they have been very responsive. Have you tried that? Because I find asking for facts and information on a public forum isn’t always the best route to the truth.

          I hope you get your questions answered at the PTO meeting and/or via email/telephone and I hope this encourages more parents to get involved in a positive way at the school and to feel more optimistic.

          I think the school has had a very successful first year and, as a parent, I am thrilled with my child’s education and I am looking forward to moving to the new building.

  21. Your information is really wrong on one point: Grandiere was never in LA ….and was never fired. This is diffamation.

  22. The more I speak with parents, the more I hear people generally like the board, like individuals like Dr. Klingler, Jean-Jacques, and others, but I hear universally from all a dislike of Paige. One mom let off about 7 “Can’ts” before following with “stand her.” Why does she put people off so much?

    Apparently in this personal communication there was an understanding between them, perhaps a shared view of Paige, allowed the colloquialism “bitch-slap”to be used. Another way he could have said it is, “Lay The Goon-Hand Down.” It would mean the same thing – give her a sharp talking to about an issue that needs to be handled. And honestly, to leave two board members out of a conversation about something as serious as adding a second grade? What I want to know is which board member is making the school jump through flaming hoops so their kid can be brought over after they finish out this 1st grade year?

    I was bringing my 2 children over to Lycee next year and paid $1,000 I definitely didn’t have to do so, but now…I just may keep them where they are and cut my losses. I’m thinking hard about this one because they seem to bicker about idiot stuff. Where my son attends currently there isn’t a single negative PEEP of a word about the school. It’s doing great. Do I want to pull my child out of a school with an awesome reputation to enter him into a school who only took a few months being open to gain a really bad rep? Is that sensible?? If I had not spent so much money There would be no question. But I’m screwed either way. I don’t know what to do because if I don’t follow up with Lycee they’ll drag me into arbitration where the poorer of the parties always loses.

    • The Lycee might turn out to be a wonderful school –but as a grandparent and lots of school experience–I would keep your child in its current school with an awesome reputation. Maybe in a year or two the Lycee will make more sense. Remember this is a new school–the board seems to be in a mess, no real leader, administration is changing, the school is changing campus’, doubling in student size, etc. I say give them time and stay put!

    • Why did you choose to move your child in the first place if you are satisfied with his current school?

      I am a parent at Lycee, and for what it’s worth, I am very happy with my child’s experiences in Pre-K this year. His teachers are WONDERFUL, the environment and materials are appropriate, and the other families involved in the school are lovely. I am surprised by how much French he already knows, and I am impressed with his education, overall. His older sibling attended an excellent private preschool, and I was nervous about choosing a different school for him, but Lycee has exceeded my hopes and expectations.

      I have had experience with another board, so I am not really surprised that Lycee’s board is feeling some growing pains. Unfortunately, some ugly behavior does occur on governing boards! Yes, it is concerning, but it’s manageable; obviously, if you read the comments posted by Wendy and Zoo Parent (for example), we have very intelligent, involved parents. I am confident that we, the parents, along with those board members who are acting in a professional way will correct this problem, and that our school will continue to impress next year.

      Personally, I want all parents to find the school that is right for their children. It upsets me to see comments (not necessarily yours, but certainly others) that are clearly meant to exploit this event in order to discredit our school.

      Best of luck with your decision.

      • I’m glad to answer why I’m moving him. My wife and I have 2 children and are having another son this Summer. I went back to school to finish up another degree to change careers. My wife suggested we find a school with a PreK-3 so our youngest son (I maybe should say the 2nd youngest these days – the one not in the womb) can begin school to: 1) learn to better socialize, and 2) free up time for me to care for the newborn while I simultaneously finish up my Accounting degree. The idea is to put them both in the same school so they can be together. I don’t find it wise to have them in separate schools if they can both get in the same one.

        Lycee was our first choice for this current year but when the LA-4 funding didn’t go through and we were told we had to cough up $4500, well, we couldn’t, even though we had already paid our consumables fee. So we went to Morris Jeff instead. But you know what, I have no idea what goes on on the board at MJ because you never see or hear them. They appoint a Principal and staff and step aside. Parents know the Principal, teachers, teacher assistants, Ms. Becky in the office, and you hear zero drama. And the parents all sit through a 20 minute morning meeting everyday at 8am and everyone is CRAZY involved, which is what makes a school successful more than any LEAP test, language class offered, etc. But the board? For all I know they could be bare-knucking and sword fighting every 3rd Wednesday of the month, though. “First rule of the school board is no one talks about the school board!” I already spent a cool grand to get them both in Lycee, so…I guess I’ll see what happens. I suppose I could check my young back in the lottery for Morris Jeff if things go south.

        I do wonder why the board has so much hands-on daily grind with the school. Just knowing the corporate structure, what boards are supposed to do, what they don’t do, it seems the board tries to be both board and Principal. Maybe that’s why Ms. Otis left. They were trying to do her job all the time, perhaps? “Why’d you hire me if you’re gonna make these decisions?”

        • LyceeNextYear –

          As a parent, I am extremely happy with the education my son is receiving and, I think, if you polled the parents at Lycee, you find the majority are happy, too. That’s the most important thing – are the children receiving an excellent education? Yes. Am I saying that parents shouldn’t be involved and that parents shouldn’t attend board meetings? No. I think they should be involved and ask questions if they have them.

          Regarding LA4 – Lycee DID receive LA4 funding and they are offering it to families who qualify. They have already contacted families who qualified based on their initial application, so I am not sure why you haven’t received communication from the school regarding LA4. Actually, I am not sure from your posting if your (family specific) LA4 didn’t go through, or if you’re implying that the LA4 wasn’t offered at the school. If it’s the latter, I would contact the school if you really think you qualify: 504.861.1601

        • I would just like to point out that people are saying that $4500 for a bilingual elementary school education is alot of money to “cough up.” I am not wealthy and I remember the days of having a 3 yr old (I have 2 children so I’ve done it twice now) and not having an option for an education for my child while I worked. I had to resort to traditional day care and when you do the math, it was $135 a week at 4 weeks a month. So, $540 a month times 9 months out of the year (the length of a school year) is $4860. Realistically, unless you have a parent or grandparent to care for your child so that you don’t have to pay someone, you’re not paying Lycee anymore than you would pay a day care center. Therefore, isn’t a true academic environment that offers a bilingual education the better, “money well spent” option?? Don’t get me wrong; I know times are tough and I am one of the free/reduced lunch crowd at Lycee but if I had the Lycee option for my kindergartener or my 9th grader, I would have gone that route any day.

  23. Okay…does anyone understand the second grade issue? It seems like JVB is saying that all changes in charter must be voted on by the board. But, that has not happened has it? I know there was a special meeting for that a couple of weeks ago, but the vote did not happen because the board did not have quorum. So, is it accurate to assume that at this point the board has not approved the 2nd grade addition and that parents of second graders may not have a spot at Lycee?

    With regard to Lycee Next Year’s comment regarding conversations between board members about second grade. It is my understanding that these conversations are not supposed to occur between multiple board members unless it is in the open meeting. However, it seems that there have been many such conversations and that there is an expectation that all board members would be included in these behind the scense discussions.

  24. The letter from the paper is wrong! I am a parent of a child who is bi-racial, and I met the qualification of free lunch! So with that being said not every thing printed is true!

  25. I think the whole board needs the “goon hand,” and we should replace them with people who put the interests of the school and the students ahead of their own. Hell, half the people posting here need the “goon hand.” I need someone to slap me with the goon hand! Wake me from this nightmare!

  26. I’m sorry if this has been explained before but who is Robert Bell? I only ask because his explanation about the executive session were included in the notes above as well as his additional comments about communication rocket science & LOL. I have never attended the school’s board meeting before so like others I’m not familiar with all the game players.

    • Bystander – While I’m covering the meeting live, anyone who’s watching can post comments while I’m doing that. Robert Bell was the only reader who happened to comment during this meeting.

      • how can a private e-mail be sent to uptown messenger?

        • You can reach me at uptown@nolamessenger.com.

          • oh so you can post comments while you are posting live? I didn’t realize that. It appeared like this person were making comments from the peanut gallery and was being included in your notes. I will know to take those comments with a grain of salt.

  27. If you’re so skeptical before your child even steps foot in the school, why bother coming?

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