Nov 082012
 

David Bedell, the former business manager at Lycee Francais, defends his work creating the school’s current budget amid heated discussions of a recently-discovered $90,000 shortfall. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans has an as-yet-unexplained hole of at least $90,000 in the current year’s operating budget that required the sudden layoffs of three staff members, the school’s board president said Wednesday evening, leaving many of the young school’s teachers openly fearful for their jobs and drawing angry protests from a room full of parents.

The school board has already engaged a team of auditors to help it gauge the true state of the school’s finances, board president Jean Montes said, and they hope to know the full extent of any future cuts needed within the next three weeks. For the audience of more than 150 people at the meeting of the school’s parent-teacher organization, however, the revelations only raised more questions.

Growing shortfall
Back in the summer — apparently not long after approving the 2012-13 budget in early July — school leaders began raising questions about the finances that they could not get answers to, Montes said, leading to their seeking the resignation of the business manager at the time, David Bedell. As they looked further into it, Montes said, school leaders have discovered that the budget now has a shortfall of at least $90,000.

“The board was operating based on the numbers it received,” Montes said, explaining the surplus the budget showed when they passed it five months ago.

How the hole in the budget was created remains to be determined, Montes said. Part of the problem may be that money allocated for this school year has already been spent, Montes said. But at a parent’s inquiry, Montes said he could not rule out theft.

“If anything was stolen, we are going to go after everyone who stole that money,” Montes said.

Midway into the meeting, Bedell himself appeared at the front of the cafeteria and asked for a chance to speak. He identified himself as both “the one being blamed for the demise of this school” but also the great-grandparent of a student who loves Lycee. Bedell defended his budgeting, and said the board was approving spending not included in the budget.

“No money was in the budget for all the repairs in getting this building up to date,” Bedell said of the school’s new campus on Patton Street. “I have no idea how it was paid for. It’s all up to you to find out.”

Layoffs looming
Whatever its cause, the budget gap has recently forced the school to lay off three administrative employees: an office manager, an assistant to the school director and the school after-care coordinator. The audit is continuing, however, and more cuts are likely soon, Montes said.

“I’m anticipating some kind of cuts in the next three weeks,” Montes said.

Montes said he met Wednesday with the teachers at the school who arrived from France and assured them that their jobs will not be affected. Asked by a parent whether that meant other teachers at the school could be cut, Montes replied that it was a possibility.

“We are still in the process,” Montes said. “They’re all potentials.”

Montes’ meeting with the French teachers Wednesday did little to reassure them, however. Prior to his arrival at the meeting, a group of 20 or so of them approached the microphone together and read a prepared statement saying that they are all worried about the consequences of the recent cuts.

“These decisions have an impact on the teaching conditions in the class,” the teachers read, to a loud standing ovation from the parents.

The parents repeatedly voiced support for the teachers and school director Jean-Jacques Grandiere. But the uncertainty among the faculty, they said, is breeding fear among the families about the school’s future.

“I don’t understand what goes on with the budget. I don’t understand what goes on with the board,” said one parent at the meeting. “But what I can see is a room full of extremely nervous teachers. If they’re nervous, if they’re worried, how are we supposed to feel?”

Montes replied that he appreciated the concern in the room.

“The fact that you’re here is very hopeful,” Montes said, noting that he too is a parent at the school. “I understand the anger that you have. I have the same anger.”

Ongoing issues
The board members’ level of involvement in the school’s daily operations has been debated persistently and openly at least the announcement in April that founding principal Jill Otis would be resigning, and it resurfaced several times Wednesday. One parent said she felt that the staffing decisions should be made and announced not by the board, but by Grandiere.

“I am concerned that he’s not making decisions about who is fired,” she said.

“This is a great program, but if you’re going to have the board micromanage it … I guarantee you won’t have success,” another woman warned.

The school has been under scrutiny at the state level for its admissions practices and diversity issues lately as well, other topics that were mentioned on occasion by meeting attendees but never addressed outright. A separate report on those issues before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Sophie B. Wright Institute for Academic Excellence, 1426 Napoleon Avenue.

Meanwhile, the Lycee board will have its own usual monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the school, and after about an hour of discussion, the budget issues were tabled until then. Daniel Carr, a member of the school parent-teacher organization board, likened the open discussion of the school’s financial problems to the catharsis that comes from delivering a eulogy at a funeral: painful at the time, but ultimately beneficial.

“This is good,” Carr said. “We’re not going to reach a solution here tonight. There’s too much we don’t know. But what we’re doing here is good.”

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  • Worried mom

    Some board members really just need to leave. This is a wonderful school, but it will not survive this level of mismanagement.

    • LyceeDad

      I’m still not quite sure where the mismanagement for this board is? They have not shown us anything yet. The past Board and David Bedell is where the mismanagement was.

      • NOLA_Flowerbomb

        LyceeDad – thank you for your passion of trying to share the truth. The problem is, it’s falling on deaf ears. These trolls and concerned parents don’t really care about a solution. They don’t care that Dr. Montes was trying to express that a solution is being implemented right now. All they want is to find a reason to complain and point fingers. That’s it. These are people who do not care about the school. Did you see the ringleaders at the PTO meeting? It’s well known that they have a personal agenda. And the sad part is they are dragging innocent parents who know nothing about their personal issues down with them. If they really cared about the school, they would’ve waited until the board meeting on Monday evening to see what is disclosed and then ask questions if they didn’t hear answers. But no, they want instant gratification. They have a sense of entitlement that I have no idea where it comes from, but it’d disturbing to me as a parent to see good people dragged down with them. They really believe they are fighting for a cause. What they should be doing is asking Mr. Grandiere the questions and when he doesn’t answer or says he doesn’t know, call bullsh*t, because he knows. And if he says he doesn’t, question why.

        • BlondieNola

          Quote: “concerned parents don’t really care”.

          Listen to yourself!

          Quote: “Did you see the ringleaders at the PTO meeting? It’s well known that they have a personal agenda.”

          A few board members and their entourage are only being overly sensitive/defensive about this because they have a trail of bodies behind them a mile long and know it’s only a matter of time before all that negativity catches up with them. Over the last year they’ve intimidated and bullied respected professionals, forced brilliant people off the school’s board, condescended to and micromanaged the teachers/staff, created an environment of mistrust, smeared the names of respected members of society, (via a vicious gossip machine) – all because they dared to question them. This is the reason they’re demonizing the concerned parents that are finally organizing to get some real answers out of them. Do you really think all of those teachers would’ve stood up there together at the PTO meeting if things were all peachy? No, they’re miserable, and it’s heartbreaking they’ve been put in this position. There is no shame in holding the people in charge accountable for all of this.

          This board better have some seriously impressive answers on Monday night, or they will have no applicants next year. And they should keep the fake charm to a minimum. Parents are so seriously beyond BS right now. We want direct answers, and clear plans for the future.

        • Yetanotherparent

          Well the more I read, the more confused I become, what is the personal agenda?

    • Maruchie

      I too am worried – it is a wonderful school! But I see the problem as being in the administration, and not the Board. I feel this current Board has acted quite responsibly. They hired a new and highly qualified finance director who uncovered a shortfall. The Board then immediately moved to curtail spending and hired an auditor to determine the cause of the shortfall. In my view, this Board and Dr. Montes should be applauded. Now, we wait to see where the money went. In the meantime, we should keep things in perspective: it’s a 3% shortfall discovered in the first quarter of the fiscal year. Certainly a manageable situation and not something to be scared about.

      • Tri Lingual Familia

        I have seen other charter schools endure far worse financial crisis, and I agree with you that the 3% deficit is a void we can fill, even with triumph, now that more parents are aware of it. I don’t feel well-informed enough to point fingers or pass blame as I’m just now tuning in and uncertain what (or who) to believe. I will say this – the priority should always be the students, and in this case, if we focus on the problems rather than the solutions, our students will pay the consequences. Our efforts would then be in vain.

        I have two children at Lycée – one at each campus – and they both adore all their teachers – French and English! Our daily, and I do mean daily, family dinner conversations are never without reference to their teachers by name. They come home every day excited to share a new book, song, or morsel of knowledge, and they wake up the next day excited to go to school. I might seem melodramatic, but if ANY of these amazing teachers were laid off, I’m fearful that my children would not only lose their motivation to learn, they may not be able to overcome the grief of losing their teachers and role models at such a young age. We MUST find viable solutions together, but laying off these stellar teachers is simply NOT an option.

  • Lycee Parent

    I was at the meeting, but had to leave before it was over and couldn’t always hear well.

    Was it confirmed that the next board meeting would be Monday the 12th at 6:30pm? I know that’s the usual time, but it isn’t listed on the website.

    Did Mr. Montes ever state the name of the person or company that is handling the audit?

    • Wallflower

      The board meetings do not, by law, have to be posted until 24 hours in advance. They are usually the second Monday of every month at 6:30, but have to be confirmed every month.

      • Lycee Parent

        I understand that. I was asking if anyone had been able to confirm the date/time at last night’s meeting.

        • Wallflower

          I think the PTO president did confirm that. But, we need to check the school’s website, or here at UM, to confirm closer to the date. The reason I’m saying this is that they can change it (for obvious reasons), and we need to be on top of it.

        • AmyGeorge

          Yes, Board meeting is Monday night at 6:30. I am cautiously optimistic that we will get some answers to our inquiries there, and I think it’s important that we patiently and respectfully continue to ask questions until we get the answers we need.

          In the meantime, I’ll continue listening to my son sing French songs everywhere he goes :)

          • LyceeMom2

            And the agenda is up on line already, thank you Robert Morris.

          • Joy Van Buskirk

            I read have this entire blog. My first comment is EVERYONE SHOULD READ THE CHARTER!!!! READ GOVERNANCE!! It is clear that LFNO Board members have not read the charter. It explicitly says, that the Board shall not micromanage the day to day operations of the school. I have read parent comments about the General Manager. Is he perfect – no? However, if your job is on the line, you tow the board’s line if you want to keep it. JJ is not the decision maker, and frankly I believe that he is afraid to stand up to this board. Is that right? No. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. However, the former principal did stand up to the board on the second grade issue and look where it got her. The French government was vehemently against the addition of the second grade. LFNO might not get its program certified by the French Government for a long time due to the second grade addition. That is a pity.
            I know the Governance section like the back of my hand. I wrote it in its entirety. I know that the board violated its most sacred trust and duty – the evaluation of the principal. THEY DID NOT FOLLOW THE EVALUATION PROCESS IN THE CHARTER FOLKS. By the way, the principal evaluation and the organizational structure outlined in the LFNO charter which is now being questioned by the board chairman is based upon the most successful charter schools in NO, and elsewhere. If it is, as he suggested, a poor template then why did the NACSA experts approve it? Perhaps he can teach them a thing or two.
            The Board Chairman should have had some answers to parent questions during the PTO meeting last Wed. You do not show up without answers. If you do not have answers, don’t get on the agenda. If the Board Chairman does not have the answers, than who does? Is it unreasonable to expect that he should know what is going on? In my opinion, he was unprepared, and demonstrated a lack of leadership skills during his presentation. He was not blindsided by the questions that were asked. He had received them days before the meeting. I believe his mantra is stonewalling. If he had ever read the charter, he would have known that he had five days to respond to parents’ questions. Instead the chairman said he would get back with answers in two or three weeks? When will some of you wake up? The foremost reason for a charter school failing is a dysfunctional board. Heard that over and over again while attending required meetings leading up to the adoption of the LFNO charter. The current chairman never attended those meetings although he was on the interim board along with two others that currently serve on the board. Matter of a fact, he could rarely be found while the preparation work was on-going. He showed up only after the charter was adopted.
            This board has violated charter provisions over and over again. The charter is a state contract – state law. It is not a game board. The charter sets up the rules and regulations that govern this school. It is the blueprint for the operation of the school. That is why a NACSA team (the group that BESE contracts with) vets the application (charter) to determine if it fulfills the necessary objectives and provisions to operate a school efficiently and effectively, with the onus on the academic program. It is a monumental task to write a good charter. We were required to orally defend the charter fielding questions by our assigned NACSA team. Guess what one of the most important things focused on by the team? The Outreach program!! They loved the First Steps concept. I was the board member who asked the Macdonalds to partner with us. I am sick about the irresponsible handling of this important piece of the LFNO charter. It was not a ruse to get the school chartered. I truly believed that LFNO’s program would demonstrate that the earlier languages were taught to children (1 -2 yr olds) the more fluent they would become and acquire a more proficient command of the language. With First Steps we could recruit minority children and in some cases, those at-risk. Guess who dropped the ball there? It was not the principal. The board, not the principal, assigned the task to another. I know because I have thoroughly done my homework. At the next board meeting the new Outreach program will be discussed. Note the person who will making the presentation. Then draw your own conclusions. Due to the last BESE meeting, the presenter has now rustled up new partners. Why? What about First Steps? You cannot make up rules as you go along as this board continues to do. This is not a game. This school is funded with tax payer money, not monopoly money. I was appalled to hear the board chairman state that he did not know how the 90,000 shortfall was created? No one stole money. All any of you have to do is look at the excessive spending spree as of June, July, etc. Hiring more administrative staff, giving big raises to the top administration. Hiring a consultant to oversee the move to the new school, the lunch program, etc. How much was he paid per hour? Instead of asking parents to assist in getting the new building ready, hiring a contractor. Find out how much that cost. Ask if the lunch program is in the black. How about the money to rent the new building? Find out if the board can pay the full rent monthly or if the board has backloaded rent payments. When did you last get a $20,000 pay raise? Look at the raises of the top administrators. When I initially wrote the budget, we were going to pay the principal $65,000 and she was willing to accept that salary. My colleagues decided that was too little given that the principal was building the entire program, and she did. I predicted in May that LFNO would be in the hole 300,000 or more by the end of this school year. Did you know that pre-K tuition barely covers the cost of teacher/teacher aides’ salaries and benefits? Think about costs for materials, books, etc. that have to be purchased for that program. The rapid expansion of pre-k has also put a big strain on the budget. What about fund raising? The pre-k program is not a private school program. It became a daycare program because of the facility it was housed in. No buildings to be found in this city to house charters. That is yet another problem left to linger.
            I wrote the first year’s budget with input from the Finance committee that was created under our interim board. The budget was in the black based upon securing state grants. It was a skeletal budget folks. It was not comprised of grandiose expenditures. It was lean, and some of the expenditures were not funded because state monies were reduced. Now the new CFO has two colleagues assisting. Another example of overspending. Ask about their salaries. The former principal, the former CFO, and at least two current board members met on a monthly basis to review the school’s budget. One board member demanded that it be on line so it could be reviewed. I ask how could board members not know what was happening with the budget as a touch of their computer told the budget story. Why didn’t the board chair know about this process? I wonder why the food service budget was not included in the school budget when the former CFO was in charge? Where was the record of those monies being kept?
            Perhaps the low point of LFNO’s existence came Wed. night at the PTO meeting. It was heartbreaking to see the teachers stand in front of the parents asking for their support. Could you not see how they felt? Do any of you know how hard it was for them to do that fearing reprisals? After the statement was read, two teachers sat down and cried. I was heartsick. Just have a private conversation with a teacher and learn something. Don’t take my word for it. This board should be ashamed of itself- creating an environment of fear and mistrust. As I see it, the three staff members that were fired was due to excessive overspending. How would you feel if your livelihood depended upon your job, and you were sacked two months into the school year not for incompetence but runaway spending? How would you and your family survive? The front line of security is now gone for the children. I wonder if the state would approve of parent volunteers in their stead? Would the volunteerism be consistent? Thank goodness parents questioned who was to be fired in the next three weeks. It wasn’t rumor, it was projected to be a teacher. Lycee Dad ought to get his facts straight and not blindly accept the quibbles of board members. He must be part of the board’s in-crowd to be so snowed or who really is he?
            LFNO has a great teaching staff, but when a teacher is worried and under duress, it is hard to do his/her job. That should worry the parents. If this continues, I fear that some of the teachers might decide not to fulfill their contracts and go back to France. I would, given the current school climate. The danger is that the French government probably would not replace them. That is the very clear and present danger. What about the upward progression of grades in 2013-14? If teachers return to France prematurely, what will the French government do in regard to sending teachers for the next school year? I do not think that the board has even considered this scenario, but they darn well better.
            I believe that the board members who have children attending LFNO should step down from the board immediately. I wanted to put that provision in the by-laws, but some on the current board would not have it. I believe that it is a conflict of interest for parents to serve on the board where their children attend school. Human nature sometimes clouds our better judgement in regard to our children. A bad decision was made based re: board members’ children and the 2nd grade. LFNO was not prepared to add the second grade. I knew it would place an undue burden upon the teacher(s) if 2nd grade students arrived without any prior French language training. Imagine your child in that situation, feeling frustration and failure because he or she cannot keep up with his or her peers. That could damage a child’s self image and school experience. So a selfish decision put others’ children at risk. How shameful! A full summer French camp experience and remediation after school cannot catch a student up two grade levels. Throw in newly imposed second grade testing, and the school’s rep could be at risk. That is why we structured the school with pre-K and K only the first year. We wanted the children to come through our program having a successful experience, being assured that each would be on grade level or above. That is what educators do. If you have a board that does not have K-12 educators you have no foundation or experience to make academic decisions. That’s why two teachers are required to be part of writing a charter.
            This school is not about the founders, the charter authors or the LFNO board, it is about the children. I ask that you focus on the children, ensuring that this wonderful school continues. Only you, the parents can accomplish that mission. You must attend all PTO and board meetings, becoming part of the decision making process. You cannot count on others to do your job. If you disagree with what I have said, so be it. You have the right to your opinion.
            No one wants to destroy this school. Perhaps some have faced the reality of its possible demise and want to have questions answered. Isn’t that democracy or would some of you prefer a dictatorship? This missive will be my last effort to save this school from board members who profess to spend their every waking hour sacrificing for the school. I only have one question to ask. Could that be the problem?

  • kally

    Catherine Mcphaille is a lycee board member. She has two children at the school. Was her Husband’s company the one who did the repairs?This should be disclosed ASAP. If so , she needs to be asked to leave the board.

  • Wallflower

    I haven’t heard that MacPhaille’s husband did repairs, but it’s worth looking into. We need to see the current financial budget, what was spent and who it was given to. Montes is balking at this and we need to keep up the pressure. I am afraid that the Director, Mr. Grandiere, will be next to go if we keep this board, meaning he may decide to leave on his own. That would be terrible. I believe we need to get rid of this incompetent, unethical board so as to allow Mr. Grandiere to run this school as he needs to, and is not being allowed to. The teachers were all pretty upset, and that says a lot. That’s too stressful of an environment to work in, and we need to get rid of the board to make it better for all.

    • NOLA_Flowerbomb

      I’m torn with whether or not I would like Mr. Grandiere to leave. I’m a parent of a first grader whose teacher did not show up to school the week before fall break. He was out the entire week and we had absolutely NO notice or communication sent home from the principal regarding what was going on in our child’s classroom. And that was not the first time the teacher was out and left the kids hanging. Any other school, I think the teacher would’ve been fired. I’m very concerned that Mr. Grandiere is not the “leader” he pretends to be. He seems to do is best for the teachers and NOT the children and that deeply disturbs me. I spoke to Mr. Grandiere about my concerns with that classroom and he told me he was supposed to have a meeting with the teacher and he didn’t show up! The teacher is STILL there! What’s going on????? And I am not the only parent concerned about this. These kids have not had homework for weeks! Where are the answers for that?

      • dp

        The French national curriculum does not emphasize homework, just fyi.

        • NOLA_Flowerbomb

          I understand that, but they were getting little nightly assignments and the other first grade classes are getting them and this class is not. That’s what’s disturbing. I feel like this class is really falling behind. I get the homework thing, but I’m just comparing this class to the other 3 first grade classes.

      • Wallflower

        I think that particular teacher has, in fact, been fired. And as for Mr. Grandiere, I think he is completely overwhelmed. Last year, he did an excellent job. But, then again, things were different last year. Give him a chance. If he is allowed to do what he needs to do, and has enough support to do it, he is completely competent.

        • NOLA_Flowerbomb

          He’s been fired? Why hasn’t this been communicated with my class? My child is IN that class. Our parents should be the first to know about this. What is going to happen to my child’s class? What is the plan from Mr. Grandiere? I’m asking you, Wallflower, since you seem to know more than what Mr. Grandiere is letting us know.

          • Wallflower

            You need to ask Dr. Montes to answer that question. He does the firings at that school. And he tells the staff what they are ALLOWED to communicate to the parents. And if they deviate from what he tells them they can or can’t do, their jobs are on the line. Does that make sense?

          • Lycee Supporter

            Wallflower- you seem have so much information. Where do you get it from?

          • LyceeMom2

            Yes, who are you?

          • Louie

            She is one of those fired this week!

          • Lycee Parent

            How do you know that, Louie?

          • Lycee Parent

            You are simply wrong. He does not do that and actually has very little contact with the teachers. Dr. Montes only met with the teachers on Wednesday (yesterday) at their request.

          • LyceeDad

            Yes, Simply wrong. It is a fact that Dr. Montes met with the teachers for the first time this school year this past Wednesday. If Dr. Montes did any firings it is only because Dir. Grandiere is not the leader he should be. I think many of you don’t see the real issue here. Dir. Grandiere has made very poor decisions since he has been hired and now he has teachers doing administrative work. If those teachers are making some more money then great–they deserve to. But if so, why wasn’t that money used instead to hire an Assistant Principal and kept a huge burden off of our wonderful teachers. Had he done so then maybe he would not be so overwhelmed and would have the support he needs.

            And how much is the Zoo program draining from the school. I could care less if my child goes to the Zoo if by getting rid of it gets us out of a budget crisis.

          • Maruchie

            LyceeDad: Excellent comments. Yes, as time goes on, and especially in the wake of the poor communication of the layoffs, my perception is that the issues we face at the school ladder back to M. Jean Jacques, who is a wonderful person but has made poor decisions in terms of structure, hirings, budget allocation, communication, and priorities. We really need a strong director with business management skills AND an assistant principal. It’s highly inefficient to spread administrative work among the teachers. And, it makes it difficult for parents to communicate on administrative matters because teachers are in class most of the day. Also, agree with you on the Zoo Program. Not sure how much it is costing, but perhaps it would be best to focus energy and resources on the core school (Patton/Claiborne). Just not sure what our contractual obligations are.

          • LyceeDad

            Really? Really? I’ve heard that JJG ask Dr. Montes to do the firings because he couldn’t do it himself.

        • LyceeDad

          See wrong information again. Teacher not fired!!

    • Lycee Parent

      I think the question about the budget and spending was addressed last night. The current budget, approved in the summer, is posted on the school website. However, it was written before learning of this missing money. They don’t seem to know where the missing money went (I know someone does, but I don’t think they all do.), which is why there is an outside auditor on the job–to find out where the discrepancy lies. Once this is determined, they will write a new budget to reflect the new circumstances and vote on it.

      I do hope they figure it out soon, so it can be dealt with and we can all move on. I hope so especially for Mr. Grandiere, the teachers, and staff. They do a great job and I want them to be without this stress as well.

  • Wallflower

    A group of concerned parents asked to meet privately with Dr. Jean Montes before tonight’s PTO meeting. After the request for a meeting was denied, these questions were submitted to the Board, requesting written answers within five days in accordance with the policy detailed in Section 24 of Lycee’s Charter. Per the Charter, it is the responsibility of the Board – not Jean-Jacques Grandiere or any other member of the faculty – to respond to these matters.

    1. A current budget with up to date actuals was not available upon request at the office. Why is this unavailable? How quickly can it be made available?

    2. Why were three employees fired last week? Who made this decision? Given that two were responsible for security concerns at the front desks of both campuses, what immediate security arrangements were put in place to ensure our children’s safety? Why were you, as board chair, directly involved in informing the individuals fired?

    3. Your email to the parent community says that a structural change to the administration will be put into effect this week and that an LFNO Task Force authored this change. Who was involved in this task force and why and by whom were they selected? Have you checked with BESE to see that all changes and alterations from the charter have been approved to keep us in compliance?

    4. Is the school operating at a deficit? If so, when did the board become aware of this? Whose responsibility was it?

    5. Is it the administration or board’s intention to release any further
    employees imminently? If so, does these include teachers? As parents, we formally request that you cease and desist any additional hiring or firing of employees until these questions are answered adequately.

    6. We would like an update on concerns facing the school regarding a lack of diversity and alleged failure to fulfill recruitment promises made to a local day care. Whose responsibility was that outreach? What actions has the school taken to address this complaint?

    7. What is the board’s view of its role vis-à-vis day-to-day management of the school? Parents have grave concerns that board members are acting outside of the strictures of the charter and its executive summary. Please clarify the role of the board in day-to-day operations.

    8. In an email to parents on Saturday, November 3, you wrote: “Together with General Director Jean-Jacques Grandiere, the LFNO task force has had to make some changes to the Lycée’s structure. After careful assessment and analysis of our operations and in consultation with the Louisiana Department of Education, we have determined that the template
    set by the prior administration is unsustainable and inefficient.”
    Please provide documentation of the consultation and what the DOE’s
    recommendations were.

    9.
    Please provide us with contracts the school currently has with any
    outside entity along with the specific deliverables attached to those
    contracts.

    10.
    If the school is in deficit, how much money has the development team
    raised toward correcting it? Can you share with us the documentation of
    those grants and other fundraising efforts that have been awarded
    additional funds?

    If you would like to continue the conversation on Facebook, send an email with your name and Facebook name to ccflycee@hotmail.com.

    • Lycee Supporter

      Perhaps you should reread Section 24 in Lycee’s charter:

      24. Provide details and/or policies of the charter school for handling complaints from parents.

      Any parent may bring a complaint to the Principal of Lycée Français for any reason. We share the commitment to accountability that we ask of all our parents and students, and we will address the any concerns expeditiously and judiciously.

      The Board of Directors expects that all complaints will be handled in a serious manner.

      The following policy has been established to respond to any such complaints.

      Complaints regarding LFNO should be made directly to the school Principal. The Principal is directly responsible for all matters that occur at the school. The Principal will determine the urgency of the matter and will respond accordingly. However, the Principal must attempt to resolve the complaint within five school days.

      If the parent disagrees with the outcome, the complaint should be made in writing and sent to the Board of Directors. Such an appeal must be made to the Board Chairman within 5 days following the response from the Principal. The Board will act on the matter at its next meeting, if the meeting is ten days or more

      58
      away. If the board is meeting sooner, the matter will be taken up at the next board meeting. The Board Chairman has the discretion of bringing the matter to full Board sooner if he/she concludes that the matter is urgent.

      If the complaint is not handled to the parent’s satisfaction, the concern should be made in writing and sent to the Board of Directors.

      If after presentation of a complaint to the Board of Directors, the parent determines that the Board has not adequately addressed the complaint, he or she may present the complaint to the charter authorizer, which may investigate and respond. The authorizer shall have the power and the duty to issue appropriate remedial orders to the Board of Directors of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans. All correspondence should be sent to the school’s address and addressed to the person from whom a response is requested.

      Only in rare cases, will an individual be allowed to present the matter in person to the full Board.

      Did you bring your concerns to Director Grandiere as the policy requires?

      • A Parent

        To clarify, this section is from the school’s charter application, and not the actual charter contract. Either way, the questions should be answered by the board.

      • Lycee Parent

        Lycee Supporter, Thank you for sharing the official written procedure for “complaints.” Does the list of questions that were presented to Jean Montes at last night’s meeting fall under “complaints”? It seems to me they are a series of questions about the current decisions and actions being taken at the school. A response to them may not be a requirement or an action mandated by law but the answers to these questions will certainly provide transparency and foster a sense that the board is acting in good faith, because, yes, that’s what parents want. Austerity measures are understandable, if, in fact ,that is what is required, but sudden actions that affect the safety of our children or threaten the livelihoods of our teachers, French and English alike require specific and thorough explanation. Parents are volunteering in the front office? Great for the short term, but what for the long term? And who is making these decisions, the principal or the board? This sudden turn of events with the finances after some somewhat dubious expenses were openly incurred (such as the school paying all student’s supply fees which doesn’t even happen in private schools and the school covering the cost of the board’s one day training retreat) may suggest mismanagement of money, but also something more sinister. If there are going to be these significant austerity measures put in place we as parents need some kind of line item proof…There was talk of an upcoming published audit. Will that audit follow the money?

        • Lycee Parent

          FYI–This is a different “Lycee Parent” than myself. I am the one who commented earlier.

        • LyceeMom2

          It is my understanding that the CEO of the school would be responsible
          for answering these questions. If not answered by the CEO, then go to
          the board.

          • Louie

            The Lycee does not have a current CEO! Where are the three public bids for marketing, admissions, web design, and building repairs? Did Lycee do proper backgrounds on the front office employees? I know for a fact one had a past issue with theft.

          • Yetanotherparent

            Oh, and here’s Louie. Of course, circling like a vulture. Spreading a bunch of rumors with his untiring agenda to tear the school down. Hey Louie, where’s Kallie?

          • Louie

            What in the world did I say wrong? YETANOTHERPARENT-this is a public school and all paid services rendered need three public bids. Also, the charter calls for a CEO and there is not one. Also, I think you need to keep with one name on the blog. It is obvious you are a board member who is always posting under many names.

          • Lycee Parent

            The CEO issue has been addressed previously. The school is not yet large enough to need or support a separate CEO and principal. As it grows, more administrative positions will be added per the charter.

          • Yetanotherparent

            I am a regular parent who in no way represents the school, and I have used only one name on this board. I am very upset and concerned about these events. I am very familiar with your comments from here and other message boards and I have no tolerance for anyone with the agenda of tearing down this school, which you have made clear from multiple posts that you do. You claim to have concern as a taxpayer (though I doubt your following all the schools your tax money goes to, right?) but I have a REAL stake in this school, and I ACTUALLY want problems to be fixed rather than exploiting them to serve some selfish agenda. Yes, bids need to be public, and I am not defending them in regard to that, but you are only here to damage my child’s school and I am calling you out.

          • LyceeMom2

            Do not worry, Kally was here. She was the first post this morning and Mr. Morris removed it. Here is is!

            “kally • 5 hours ago
            Catherine Mcphaille is a lycee board member. She has two children at the school.
            Was her Husband’s company the one who did the repairs?This should be
            disclosed ASAP. If so , she needs to be asked to leave the board.”

          • Lycee Parent

            Oh, look! Louie, our favorite Lycee internet troll and conspiracy theorist, has arrived. You’ve posted a lot of rumors here and previously, and I have yet to see any evidence of any of them or see any of them pan out in time. If you actually care, then you’d share the evidence you claim to have.

          • Louie

            Seriously! You are very rude. It is not me that has made the mess at Lycee. I have many times said I hope that this school is a success for the children of New Orleans. It takes a lot of hard work and know how to run a school. This board has had problems from the beginning. I still feel horrible for the children, parents, and the French teachers that they have to go through this! The parents at this school have real concerns! Work on getting them resolved and stop attaching a poster. Children are involved–innocent children! If this school closes where would these children go to school? It would be a real struggle for families who have invested time and energy into the Lycee. The first grade are Katrina children–schools across the area are full in first grade! This school needs to get their act together–answer the parents–be honest–play by the law! This is not a game–this involves childrens lives.

          • Lycee Parent

            I agree that the concerns in the article are real and serious. My family is one of those who has invested that time and energy, and my child is one of those Katrina children. We would have to figure out where to go if Lycee didn’t succeed.

            But if you hope this school will be a success, then you should share actual evidence of your accusations so they can be dealt with properly. If you don’t have any, then stop spreading rumors.

          • Louie

            The Lycee received 100s of thousands of dollars from the federal government to start this school. It should be a concern to many that the school has announced it is missing funds. The school announced this. That is not a rumor.

          • Lycee Parent

            Yes, Lycee received start-up funds just as other new schools do. The fact that there are missing funds in the overall budget is already addressed in the article above, has already been discussed with BESE, and is being addressed through outside audit.

            Now address the rumors you stated above, if you can.

          • Yetanotherparent

            Oh save it for someone stupid. We can practically hear you popping the champagne cork. You don’t care about these kids; you’ve made that clear and no amount of saccharin is going to fool us. Legitimate criticism is welcome, in my book, but that’s not what you offer.

          • LyceeMom2

            It is my understanding that Mr. Grandiere is the General Director, the French term for CEO. He is the leader of the school correct?

        • frenchy

          I’m a Lycee parent and I paid $250 in the spring that I thought was going to go toward supplies for this school year.

          • 2frenchies

            I paid $250 for my second grader and $150 for pk4 when we enrolled in the spring.

          • LyceeDad

            Ask Director Grandiere where your money went. He is the one who spent it.

      • Lycee Parent

        Who is the current CEO of the school that should receive these complaints? As I understand, the board never replaced the last one. In this absence, the board would be the one to address them.

        Secondly, a complaint does not need to be made in the form of a negative statement. Pointed questions are simply a more constructive means of addressing the many grave concerns that confront us.

        • Seeking Transparency

          I agree! And if you read the print out of the email sent to the board that was circulated last night, you will find only questions … not negative statements

    • Lycee Parent

      I agree that these questions should be answered. Some of them were addressed last night, but more information should be given and I hope thorough answers are provided soon.

      However, I think Mr. Montes was correct to not meet privately with a small group of parents. It is more appropriate for these things to be addressed in an open forum, such as a PTO or board meeting, so that all parents have a chance to hear the concerns and answers and be involved.

    • Lycee Parent

      The request for a meeting was not denied. Dr. Montes told you that he would meet with you after he had the opportunity to meet with the school community on Wednesday night if your answers had not been answered. Do not misstate the information received from our board president.

      • Seeking Transparency

        Thank you for confirming that Dr Montes did receive our emails. Last night he stated that he never received our emails, and in fact asked which email address it was sent to. To which we replied, “the address you responded to us from”.

  • Concerned

    Montes reeks of his arrogance, and hopefully it became clear to more people this night.

    • NOLA_Flowerbomb

      My question is this – how the HELL did the Director of the school NOT know what was going on? He can play innocent in all this, but I assure you, he is not. And if he isn’t asking the right questions, then the Board should consider that Mr. Grandiere is not the right person for that job. A principal of a school should know their own school’s budget, flaws and all. Where was he last night? That was really upsetting that he was M.I.A.

      • Wallflower

        I don’t know what Mr. Grandiere knows or doesn’t know about the budget. The problem is that the board makes all the decisions, not him. The board is running the school, and not allowing him to run it. Let’s point the finger at them, not Mr. Grandiere.

        • NOLA_Flowerbomb

          I hope what you’re saying isn’t true. Do you have proof of this? This is all so worrisome as a parent. But honestly, after many observations of Mr. Grandiere, I have concerns about him running the school. I walked in to pick up my child one day and he was running around looking stressed and he turned to another parent and said, “Uh, I hate my life.” I understand that he’s stressed, that’s a tough job. But when you’re in a leadership role, you don’t say those kinds of things to parents. I found it very unprofessional and I was disappointed to hear him say that to a parent. And that wasn’t the first time I heard him make comments like that. I know a lot of people like Mr. Grandiere, but something is not right with those comments.

          • LyceeMom

            Like we were told last night…everything is public record. I have no doubt that there is proof, and it will all come to light in a short time. As far as unprofessionalism goes, there are other board members who need a lot more work than Mr. Grandiere.

          • Lycee Supporter

            What is unprofessional is teachers and PTO board members holding private meetings and plotting against the school board or administration. I have heard some very disturbing rumors surrounding certain PTO board members and I certainly hope that background checks and fingerprinting have been done on all of them.

          • LyceeMom2

            I have heard similar rumors as well, I was hoping they were not true, but I guess they are. I too hope background checks were completed. Frightening!

          • LyceeMom

            You guys must be privy to more information than myself, so I ask you, who are you, and how do you know all this information? Isn’t that what the both of you just asked Wallflower? I beg of you to dig to the bottom of these rumors, and see if they are true. It sounds like it could be criminal acts, based on your comments on fingerprinting and background checks. Why would you want those people to be on the board? You are doing an injustice to the school by not researching and/or bringing to light these allegations.

          • BlondieNola

            Here’s we go with the “rumors” again. Can you make a grown-up accusation please?

          • LyceeDad

            And “mommy mafia” is a grown-up accusation?

          • LyceeMom

            How do you know who was in attendance of these meetings? Was it specifically the PTO board members you are making reference to?

          • A Parent

            Wait, PTO board members, or members of the school’s board? They’re two very different things. Background checks, by the way, only check for certain criminal convictions.

          • Lycee Parent

            What?!? The PTO board is not required to meet openly like the school board; they can casually meet whenever they like to work on school activities. As for plotting? What on Earth have you heard about plotting? They seem very supportive of our school administration, including volunteer hours above and beyond the norm.

            PTO members don’t work with the children directly, so background checks are not required. If they (or anyone else) does volunteer with children during school hours, then a background check has been done. Disturbing rumors? If you think there is something serious, then speak up openly so it can be dealt with. Otherwise it’s just a nasty rumor.

          • Yetanotherparent

            I think it’s irresponsible to obliquely hint at criminal backgrounds and then have nothing to clarify of back it up. I wonder if you would be so bold if using your own name. Please, if you know of any illegal activities, inform the rest of us and provide details and a credible source. Otherwise, please say nothing. These kinds of rumors are destructive.

          • Lycee Parent

            A Men.

          • http://www.facebook.com/bernie.badon Bernie Badon

            Amen !

          • BlondieNola

            This is a typical mommy mafia comment. If I had a dime for every time one of you has told me, “I have heard some very disturbing rumors about…” or words like “plotting” or “vendetta”. This TOXIC language and immature behavior is REALLY what is destroying Lycee – NOT the parents and teachers who’ve finally woken up and decided to ask tough questions of this corrupt board and their contractor cronies.

          • LyceeDad

            Yet here you are making “toxic” allegations and spreading “rumors” that the Board is corrupt.

          • Wallflower

            You have a right to be upset and to be asking these questions. I’m just trying to direct you to the right source. Mr. Grandiere’s stress lately is a symptom of the problem. Dr. Montes IS the problem.

          • Lycee Supporter

            This sounds like a personal vendetta against Dr. Montes.
            I too find it very upsetting that Director Grandiere wasn’t present last night and as a parent have issues with many of the day to day goings on at the school. I volunteer as often as my job allows and have heard many parents complain about carpool, lunch, drop off, after care bills that are incorrect, an absent teacher. Mr. Grandiere has done nothing to address our concerns or issues. It seems as though he is impressive on paper but I’ve seen nothing to be impressed about.

          • Lycee Parent

            I’ve seen carpool, lunchtime, and dropoff all improve considerably over the course of the year, after being addressed by Mr. Grandiere with the assistance of parent volunteers. Carpool pickup and dropoff run very well now and move quickly.

          • Yetanotherparent

            Carpool runs very smoothly now. Early on, it was a mess, but they have absolutely turned it around. As it is now, it is the best run carpool I’ve been in, and I’ve been in quite a few. Drop off was never a problem as far as I could see, and I’m happy with lunch. It’s a million times better than the lunch program in my other child’s school. If parents complained about noise and special seating for pre-K in that school, they would get laughed out the door. At Lycee, they have really catered to the parents’ concerns. And they serve actual, real food, not prison-style slop! No, the running of the day-to-day at the school has been great, in my experience. My child is happy, well-cared, and is blowing me away with what he’s learning. That part of it is very exciting. But the finances and the behavior of the board is gravely concerning.

          • BlondieNola

            This is such a comically manipulative comment. You’re only using the word ‘vendetta’ to diminish serious and legitimate questions. I’m not buying your BS. Also, everyone with a soul knows Jean Jacques Grandiere is a wonderful man with a great love of education and a wonderful wit. He may or may not have been the best person for this job, but I will not listen to character assaults on him. He has worked exhaustively for this school and it’s showing lately. I sincerely hope he feels better soon.

          • LyceeDad

            But it’s OK to “listen” or write character assaults on other people? Many people have worked “exhaustively” for this school. We all hope he feels better soon but I’m not quite sure where his work is showing? Hiring an inexperienced Secretary? Not handling a CRISIS situation in a first grade classroom? Not having a shuttle service to get kids back from the Zoo after school? Not having a plan in place for coverage of a front desk at both campuses?

          • Worried mom

            Surely you’re not referring to the secretary at Patton, who speaks 5 languages and has lengthy experience in Europe as data manager. The woman is brilliant, professional, and wonderful with students and parents. Based on the misinformation that you have been posting, I gather that you are either married to or good friends with the woman who is good friends / employee of Montes and Saleun and who has gotten quite a few contracts with the school as a result. This is the kind of thing (secretary was not experienced) which is not true but which she would say to anyone who listens. It’s just not true- I’m sorry you can’t trust her. As far as Jean-Jacques, Leave the guy alone! Do you really think he’s just not coming to work?

          • Lycee Supporter

            Or maybe YOU are friends with the English/Special Ed coordinator who doles out contracts to friends with Speech Therapy Companies without public bid or hires all of her friends and inflates the English department and teaches one class per day.

          • Darleen

            Since the post above is clearly directed at me, I would like to address all of the incorrect statements made. First of all, Lycee Francais contracts with several different companies to provide special education services and to perform evaluations. In fact, most schools only use one company, but we try to select the company that is able to provide the best service for our children. It would actually be far easier to use one company for everything, but this would not really be the best for our children. Even if we did use the same company for all services, the contract would not have to be publicly bid since the rates of evaluations and services are all the same regardless of the company used; also, we evaluate children on a case-by-case basis. The reason why we even have to contract with outside companies is because we are a type 2 charter school, so services that are provided by central office in most schools are not available to us.
            Regarding my position at the school, I hold the following jobs: English department chair, 2nd grade English teacher, Special Education Coordinator, Gifted Teacher, 504 Accommodations Coordinator, LA4 coordinator, and testing coordinator, not to mention the many little jobs that pop up on a regular basis. In fact, my job would be held by several people at most schools, and I earn less than I would earn if I had remained in my previous position as a teacher. I worked full-time throughout the entire summer, and have not worked less than 60 hours per week during the school year; I was not even able to join my family for vacation during fall break because I had to meet looming deadlines.
            Enough about me, and on to the “bloated English Department.” I do not have the authority to hire employees, although as English Chair I was, of course, on the interview committee along with Jean-Jacques and Jill Otis while she was still there. Hiring decisions were made by Jean-Jacques, and I was in complete agreement, since we hired the most experienced and professional applicants. All positions were advertised widely for over a month, and we probably interviewed 15-20 people. Although I was not the person who directly hired this staff, I can honestly say that I feel privileged to work with such a hard working, intelligent and caring group of people. I have been so impressed by their tireless dedication even after being told that there was potential that they might be laid off after Thanksgiving. I am been extremely impressed with the way that these women have continued to persevere to ensure that their students are well-taught even in these extraordinary difficult circumstances. They teach a large group of students; ( over 100 each for the three at Patton; 60 for the part-time teacher at Claiborne) and have also been saddled with paperwork usually handled by support staff, which Lycee Francais does not really have.
            I regret that I even have to write this since it takes time out of my day and away from the little time I do have with my children; it is also very hurtful to read, since the poster had to know it was not true and was only doing to to cause pain, and I’m sad to think that anyone associated with our beautiful school would be capable of that.

          • Nola

            I know Darleen personally and she is one of the kindest warmest people I know. The mommie mafia is always quick to blame administration and teachers for things that they should not. I still say the principal was put in a lose lose position with no support. That was the choice of the Board.

          • BlondieNola

            Darleen, you are the best. Everyone with a brain and a soul knows you’re among those DOING the hard work over there – a true professional with in-depth knowledge of Louisiana’s education/charter system, a successful grant writer (she gets us playgrounds!), and a brilliant, patient teacher. We refuse to let some “mean girls” clique disrespect you this way, and diminish all the amazing work you do. Most of us are quite sick of the mommy mafia’s cruel ways, and we’re not accepting it anymore. Stay strong!

          • Yetanotherparent

            Personally, I am beyond impressed with my child’s English teacher. He’s in Kindergarten and starting to crack the code of translating phonetic sounds to words. I can tell she’s pulling other lessons into that one hour of English including some history, science, and social stories. From what I can tell, Darlene is doing well.

            As for the “mommy mafia” I don’t know who these ladies are (or are supposed to be) but can we please back off the name calling? I know it’s catchy, but it does nothing to help our discourse. I’m not saying who is right and who is wrong, just that it’s time to remember we are all just people and that we need to work together and treat each other the way we want to be treated.

            I also have to add that if you wish there were more English instruction, then possibly language immersion isn’t the best choice for you. Parents should research this education model carefully to make sure it is appropriate for their child. I am completely confident the amount of English language arts is sufficient for my child, but different children need different things.

          • Tri Lingual Familia

            I too cannot brag enough about my children’s English teachers. It amazes me how much they are able to captivate their young audience and pour so much valuable knowledge into such a short time frame each day. Both my daughters are excited to go to school each day, and they come home with the same enthusiasm! I attribute that to the PK4 and PK3 teachers! Keep on doing what you are doing!

          • Tri Lingual Familia

            I am deeply troubled by this comment. I sincerely hope the allegations aren’t true, but I’m more disappointed by the harsh and clearly personal tone behind the words. Such dissension isn’t beneficial to our school. I love Lycée. My children love Lycée. On that note, my children adore their English teachers and have shown a newfound love for reading that I couldn’t foster at home. Although I understand that Lycee is not a bilingual school, and the French curriculum takes precedence, I do worry about their near future as they face state standardized testing in English. I feel as if they’re already not receiving enough English instruction, which is why it troubles me to read these words: “inflates the English department.” Correct me if I’m wrong. Lycée currently enrolls 5 grade levels – PK3, PK4, K, 1st, and 2nd – right? For each of those grade levels, Lycée has 1 English teacher, right? If so, how is that inflation? Once we consider modifications for the various special needs, I’d say we are frighteningly deflated and understaffed. The real issue here, as detailed in this article, is the fact that the school is in budgetary deficit. We need to focus on solutions, and that means setting aside our differences, opinions, friendships, affiliations, and childish behavior for the greater good. Our children depend on us!

          • LyceeDad

            Yes, “the woman” as you want to call her was charming and lovely. One of those languages was barely English and she had no experience in a school situation. And no, I’m not “friends” with anyone at school. I’m just a charming person who asks a lot of questions and people seem to tell me the answers. And yes, he’s just not coming to work. Let me know when you hear of any Charter school director who leaves his school hanging without anyone covering the front offices-I don’t care how sick you are.

          • Yetanotherparent

            I don’t understand, why would a shuttle bring kids back from the zoo? It’s not like there’s a bus to catch. Parents should be dropping off and picking up from the zoo themselves. It’s actually easier because they have a parking lot, and it isn’t far from the school.

            Maybe you know something I don’t, but I thought the secretary was really impressive. I thought she was laid off due to budget issues, not because she was inexperienced.

          • LyceeDad

            She was fired because she refused to come to work for the week of Fall Break when staff did not have off.

          • ghost

            LyceeDad–Above you claim “I’m not ‘friends’ with anyone at school.” Then how do you know why she was fired? Why are so many of your comments so pointed? From your comments, you seem to believe there are sides here that need to be taken. I would suggest the “charm” you feel you have is really a guise for something else? What is your real motive…your wife? Yourself?

          • Lycee Parent

            I’d like to see someone else deal with this situation better. You have no idea about the mess he walked in to.

          • Lycee Supporter

            “the mess he walked in to”- Grandiere has been around since the school opened.

          • Lycee Parent

            I don’t know if he said that or not, but I can tell you that Mr. Grandiere has a very dry sense of humor and might have been joking. I think he’s very funny and witty, but I can see that some people might not pick up on the sarcasm.

            I’ve been at the school since last year, and every parent I’ve spoken to is very happy with Mr. Grandiere and the work he does.I hope things are resolved soon so that he is under less stress and better able to do his job.

          • LyceeDad

            And you all have the wool pulled over your eyes.

          • Yetanotherparent

            If your concern is that he seems stressed or overwhelmed, that’s valid,
            but I don’t agree his comment was a big deal. People say stuff like that
            all the time, and while it is a little bit casual, I don’t think it’s
            out of step with the school’s culture; it isn’t a stuffy place. In
            general, I think Mr. Grandiere — and all of the teachers I’ve had
            contact with — are very professional.

        • Lycee Parent

          You don’t know all the facts. Do not make assumptions!

        • LyceeDad

          I want to know how you think the Board is making all the decisions? All I see at school is an absentee Director who doen’t t know how to make good decisions or even make a decision at all.

      • Lycee Parent

        It’s certainly possible that Mr. Grandiere had no idea what was going on. If the board had a role (intentional or not) in the financial problems, he may not have been able to know or do anything about it if he did. The board oversees Mr. Grandiere, not vice versa.

        Mr. Grandiere has done a wonderful job at Lycee and every parent I’ve spoken to over the last two years feels the same way. He had a good reputation at his previous school as well.

        • BlondieNola

          No, the board HIRES the director, but they’re not supposed to interfere with his work at all. The director is supposed to report to the board regularly. If he’s failing to meet the school’s goals they can fire him, but they’re NOT supposed to DO his job at all. This board has far overstepped its bounds and actively intrudes on the daily work of the teachers and staff. This is why everyone involved (except for a tight inner clique) is upset with this board.

          • LyceeMom2

            Let’s say he is not doing his job. And if they come in and fire him, what will your responses be then?

          • Wallflower

            I find it odd that so many people have not been “doing their jobs.” Let’s see — it started with Jill Otis, then David Bedell. It seems to me that these people haven’t been willing to be puppets for the board and to take orders from them to carry out missions they don’t agree with — like an inappropriate, too fast expansion — like cronyism for the board’s friends. Maybe Mr. Grandiere doesn’t agree with that either? Maybe the board likes to fire people who get in their way? Maybe he’s not “doing his job” as they see it? And I would be happy to hear that. Get that rogue board out of the way and let Mr. G and the teachers do what they do best, run a school and teach our children!!!

          • LyceeDad

            All those comments about the daycare that wasn’t contacted….Jill Otis and past Board’s fault. It should have been Jill Otis’ responsibility at time as Principal. She neglected it. David Bedell would have lost over $100000 for school had he not been fired. He is responsible for the budget mess. He did it wrong because he was not qualified whatsoever for the Job. So yes, we can blame it on the past Board and the Past Principal and now we have a Board that is trying to fix things.

          • BlondieNola

            Well, since the board is doing a far worse job than JJG is, it’s THEY who need to go first. Maybe then the director can do his job without the intimidating politburo micromanaging his work.

          • LyceeDad

            Can you explain to me exactly how they are doing a worse job? JJG had every opportunity to hire an Assistant Principal but he chose to give administrative duties to teachers. They don’t need that. Then he hired an unqualified and overpaid Secretary and who knows how much the Zoo program is costing us.

          • BlondieNola

            I’m going join the FB group and post under my real name. I encourage everyone else to do the same. We can always leave the group if we don’t like it. The discussions here (including my own) are deteriorating into petty spats, and only hurting the school publicly. Let’s go sit at the grown-up table and work this out…

          • Lycee Parent ABC

            Yes, I understand that the board shouldn’t be involved in the day-to-day. I just meant that the board does oversee the director (hiring/firing the director and reviewing performance), and that the director had no way of overseeing the board and controlling what they do.

          • LyceeDad

            Who is everyone involved? You pretty much sound like a clique yourself.

          • BlondieNola

            A group of concerned parents is not a clique. Stop trying to be divisive, election season is over.

          • LyceeDad

            It is exactly what your doing. creating division

          • LyceeMom2

            I heard that there were about 15 parents who took Dr. Montes up on the Friday morning coffee meeting this morning. I wish I was there, heard that the conversations were great. I will for sure be there next week. Why don’t you concerned parents come too!

      • Tri Lingual Familia

        Wow. While you raise some formidable points (and I also share some of your concerns), I am shocked by the language you are using on this very public venue. We may live in America and are afforded freedom of speech, but as a fellow parent, I am appalled that you would publicly degrade your child’s principal, director, or whatever-his-title while I’m trying to teach my children to honor and respect their parents, teachers, and leaders. I’m not saying that adults are without flaw, but I would rather teach my children how to question authority in a dignified and praiseworthy manner. Can we please be civil or at least try? Please. This is not at all helping. It’s only adding fuel to the fire. I love Lycée. My children love Lycée. I believe the school is worth fighting for, and this volatile high-school-like behavior will only fan more flames until they amass into an Achilles’ tendon.

    • LyceeMom

      He was so rude and condescending to the people in attendance last night. It was unreal. He walked in and out of the room with that smug look. That is not the way a President of the Board of a school should act. Ever.

      • Yetanotherparent

        I don’t agree that he was rude or condescending. He seemed upset and didn’t really answer all of the questions. He did not seemed prepared for what he walked into. I would have liked him to have laid it all out: Here’s what we know; here’s what we are doing to find out the rest; here’s the plan.

        • Concerned

          He was not forthcoming about the possibility of firing teachers until asked directly and insistantly. He was mostly speaking in vague terms and skirting the questions raised.

          • LyceeMom2

            We possibly will have more answers if we go to the next board meeting.

        • LyceeMom

          I don’t know why he wasn’t prepared, as stated by a dad last night in the meeting, he was emailed those questions a week ago. He should have known that parents were going to continue to ask questions until they get an answer. At this point, it’s not even about the “right” answer, any answer will do. Seems that this man is a master at talking in circles and sidestepping any and every question that is asked of him.

          • Yetanotherparent

            I agree. I certainly hope we get better information at the board meeting.

          • Lycee Parent

            the email was sent to him on Monday night (Nov. 6). That dad lied. Dr. Montes is doing the best he can.

          • LyceeMom2

            I agree, Dr. Montes is the best Chair Lycee has ever had. He truely cares about our kids and their best interests. His non-paid position cannot possibly be easy. Maybe if we band together to work with him instead of against him like that parent group spreading lies, the rumors would be squashed.

          • BlondieNola

            So now questioning the man in charge about missing $90,000 is “spreading lies and rumors”? No, the REAL problem is Montes / Saleun and their mommy mafia spreading gossip about anyone who questions their authority. You’re seeing their manipulation right here in this forum with commenters like “Lycee Supporter” and “LyceeMom2″ trying to make parents with legitimate concerns about structure and budget appear like a crazy mob with torches and pitchforks. I won’t stand for it. The board will keep getting tough questions from me until they can learn how to balance a budget, respect their teachers, and stay the hell away from the school’s daily management.

          • Seeking Transparency

            Well said!!!

          • LyceeDad

            Why do you think this is all coming out now? Their trying to balance the budget and in doing so ran into atrocious accounting practices put in place by a inexperienced “business manager.” And you do appear like a crazy mob….I saw you at the meeting the other night with your pitchforks and torches. We don’t have daily management. He never showed up for work.

          • BlondieNola

            And who HIRED all these inexperienced staff and administration people? Oh right, the board. If what some others are saying on here is true then JJG was possibly not qualified to begin with. So why did the BOARD hire him at all? Sounds like THEY are the inexperienced ones.

          • Seeking Transparency

            There was not a single lie spread. There was a list of questions asked. Nothing more than that. The only lies being told are by people like you misrepresenting what was asked by a large group of concerned parents.

          • Seeking Transparency

            PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT BEFORE CALLING SOMEONE A LIAR. THAT DAD SAID HE REQUESTED A MEETING ON FRIDAY … NOT A WEEK AGO. AFTER BEING REFUSED A MEETING, A LIST OF QUESTIONS WAS SENT ON MONDAY SO THAT DR MONTES WOULD NOT BE BLINDSIDED AT THE MEETING. NO ONE IS TRYING TO AMBUSH ANYONE. ALL WE WANT IS TRANSPARENCY. WE HAVE A RECORDING OF LAST NIGHTS MEETING IF YOU’D LIKE TO REFRESH YOUR MEMORY ON WHAT THE DAD ACTUALLY SAID I’D BE HAPPY TO SEND IT TO YOU IF YOU’LL PROVIDE ME YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

  • Concerned parent

    This is not a matter of professionalism. This is a matter of survival of the school! If you want to sit back and believe the garbage the board is telling you and be ignorant go for it. The rest of us are trying to keep a school we believe in alive. Without the teachers this school is nothing. So ask yourself what’s more important, supporting a board that is unethical and running this school into the ground or continuing to give your child the bilingual education you signed up for!!

    • Louie

      Did they tell you last night about the first grade teacher who is leaving and the combining those students into the other?

      • Lycee Parent

        Share the evidence of this that you know, if you have any. If not, stop spreading rumors.

  • sopsk

    Happy faculty = happy kids We cannot let our teachers and staff live with the fear of being laid off. We need each member to feel fully appreciated and respected.

    • Tri Lingual Familia

      I couldn’t have said it better. I have two children at Lycée – one at each campus – and they both adore all their teachers – French and English! Our daily, and I do mean daily, family dinner conversations are never without reference to their teachers by name. They come home every day excited to share a new book, song, or morsel of knowledge, and they wake up the next day excited to go to school. I might seem melodramatic, but if ANY of these amazing teachers were laid off, I’m fearful that my children would not only lose their motivation to learn, they may not be able to overcome the grief of losing their teachers and role models at such a young age. We MUST find viable solutions together, but laying off these stellar teachers is simply NOT an option.

    • Tri Lingual Familia

      Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better. I have two children at Lycée – one at each campus – and they both adore all their teachers – French and English! Our daily, and I do mean daily, family dinner conversations are never without reference to their teachers by name. They come home every day excited to share a new book, song, or morsel of knowledge, and they wake up the next day excited to go to school. I might seem melodramatic, but if ANY of these amazing teachers were laid off, I’m fearful that my children would not only lose their motivation to learn, they may not be able to overcome the grief of losing their teachers and role models at such a young age. We MUST find viable solutions together, but laying off these stellar teachers is simply NOT an option.

  • Lycee Dad

    I was at the meeting last night and it’s clear to me that one of the BIG QUESTIONS involves the extrabudgetary expenditures. This was brought up during the meeting but never really addressed. There is an obvious potential for problems with any spending on contracts not allocated for in the budget. I’d like to know more about these extrabudgetary contracts. For example, what is the total extrabudgetary spending for the current fiscal year? (Is it $90,000?) And who awarded these contracts and who received them and how were they selected?

  • Disillusioned Lycee’er

    Awesome. Simply awesome. Hey, Lycee Parent, you sure sound a lot like Paige, who’s suspiciously absent from the discussions. Sure you’re not doing your usual lurking on the board, acting the valiant fool to cover your inadequate governance?

    Regardless of who you are, your propaganda is full of hot air. The writing is on the wall. The scrutiny of Lycee will not be pretty. Face it, this school was the product of snobby parents who felt programs at other schools weren’t good enough for their precious children. It’s just now that truth is spilling out and the parents truly concerned with the education of their children are discovering the cover-up. I feel for fellow parents in this light, for now we’re likely having to find slots for children at other schools. This makes me furious. But even more furious am I for the irresponsibility of the board for hiding the facts.

    $90,000? Missing? Check the board’s wallets.

    • Lycee Parent

      I am not a Paige Saleun, or any other board member. I’m not on the PTO or staff. I’m just a parent. And I fully agree that the issue is extremely serious and must be investigated thoroughly. I haven’t said otherwise. And I also have serious concerns about possible board involvement. I very much want the real issues to be addressed. I’m just tired of some of the unfounded rumors that other people post and the negative impact they have on our school.

      Wanting a better education for your children and the children in your community, and wanting to improve on what is being offered at other schools is not snobby.

      • Disillusioned Lycee’er

        Then I apologize for the inference. Accusing you of that identity was rude on my part. My aggravation and anger are flaming up as a result of this debacle. This board refuses to come clean on topics affecting the education of our children and I’m fed up with it. I can’t afford to meander through the possibilities of getting them to another school. Really, I can’t afford what we’ve already got at Lycee.

    • Maruchie

      Yes, their children ARE precious. So are mine. Don’t you consider your children precious????? Then why are you undermining a great school with libelous and unfounded accusations? You should be ashamed of yourself!

  • Concerned parent

    I find it interesting that the answers Montes gave last night for all the problems centered around the previous administration. Yet last year the school was financially sound and the teachers were happy. Now that there’s no CEO to keep this board in check, the school is unexplainably $90,000 in the hole. It’s easy to blame the people who are no longer here to defend themselves. Perhaps it’s time to look at the board?! After all they are the ones firing our teachers, giving outside contracts to their personal friends and hiding behind close doors from parents.

    • LyceeMom2

      Mr. Grandiere is the General Director, equivalent to CEO in USA. So Lycee has a CEO, just a different name for the position.

      • Lycee Parent

        I would like to see that contract and/or the minutes from the board meeting that granted him the full authority of the CEO position. I do not believe he feels he has that position or authority. If he does, why was his one support staff in this first round of firings while other contractors and the business manager have a full time support staff position? Is top person expected to work efficiently this way?

        • Maruchie

          As a parent, it was pretty clear to me every time I walked into the office, that his “support staff” was unable to do some basic functions. While she is a very nice person, she did not appear to have the organizational and computer skills that one would expect in that position. I’ve heard other people had to pick up the slack. With just a team of volunteers now, the office seems to be running more smoothly. It’s certainly less messy! When doing a re-structuring, the least efficient hires are a logical target, so it did not surprise me that she was part of the layoff. What I wonder is why she was hired in the first place? The director of a school needs a much more skillful person in the assistant role and I am puzzled as to why he would hire someone for that role who was clearly unskilled and unable to provide the vital support he needs. I’ve heard from other parents that the situation at Claiborne was similar. One of the director’s most important roles is hiring people, and he seems to have fallen short here.

      • Lycee Parent

        Also, wasn’t he the General Director UNDER the CEO before that person was removed? The question is more critical given the administrative activities board member in direct contradiction to the Charter and the school website. The net effect and perception to a new parent like myself is that the gap created by the firing of one CEO without the clear hiring or combining of that position with another (i.e. General Director) and is in violation of the Charter that lays out specific rules to replace the CEO in a precise time frame. If this indeed happened, then communication of this has been non existent to the new parents. I would simply like this to question to factually and officially answered.

    • Seeking Transparency

      Absolutely correct!

    • Maruchie

      1) By definition, last year the school was not financially sound…it just looked like it was, because the previous administration (ie the finance director) missed 90k.
      2) Even so, you’re creating a tempest in a teapot. The shortfall is roughly only 3% of the budget. It was discovered (thankfully) in the first quarter of the fiscal year, so we have time to adjust spending. And, definitive steps were taken immediately to get us back in budget. Seems to me the Board is acting responsibly and should be congratulated.
      2) M. Jean Jacques is the director of the school and the responsibility of hiring and firing staff is his responsibility, not the Board’s. It was also his responsibility to communicate the changes to the Lycee community. The fact that he didn’t has been a great disappointment to me. I also feel bad for the three very nice women who were laid off without even a public explanation of the restructuring and a “thank you” for the work they had done.
      3) Evidence?? Be careful, your accusations could be libelous.
      4) Why? Why are you basing your effort as a “concerned” parent on exaggerating a manageable situation (ie the budget shortfall) and making accusations against the Board with no evidence???

  • neerida

    I feel obliged to pass on what a little birdie told me recently with the hope that the board will
    be truthful and the real work can begin: the hole is more than 4 times
    what they are saying. Could be a baseless rumor. Could be the truth.

    • Louie

      I actually have been told the same thing!

    • Disillusioned Lycee’er

      Four times? Where did you hear this? And if that’s true, that entire board needs replacement.

  • Concerned

    Lycee is hiring for teacher replacements right now, apparently:
    http://neworleans.craigslist.org/edu/3381655135.html

  • Concerned”WB”Parent

    I asked last night with no answer and I ask again, where is the state rep. when all these very serious issues are going on. This is a state charter school that is being funded by the state. When there is state funds involved there should be more stringent regulations going
    on as for as to the budget goes. And, as to the schools board goes, all the school boards I know do not make the decisions for the school. It is the job of the principal to make the decisions for the school, but prior to acting on those decisions he has to get the approved vote from the board and that’s what the board does just vote on issues that’s it. This is main reason why th board members do not get paid to do what they do so they will have a unbiased opinion.
    I strongly advise who ever is making the decisions on firing and hiring the teachers to please put off any firing or hiring and possibly rescind the firing of the French teacher until the state rep knows what’s going on before we lose funding from that state. Keep in mind this is a French school, what happens to that if we start firing the French teachers. I asked last night with no answer and I ask again, where is the state rep. when all these very serious issues are going on. This is a state charter school that is being funded by the state. When there is state funds involved there should be more stringent regulations going on as for
    as to the budget goes. And, as to the schools board goes, all the school boards I know do not make the decisions for the school. It is the job of the principal to make the decisions for the school, but prior to acting on those decisions he needs to get the approved vote from the board and that’s what the board does just vote on issues that’s it. This is main reason why the board members do not get paid to do what they do so they will have a unbiased opinion.

    Thanks,

    Concerned Parent.

    • LyceeDad

      NO FRENCH TEACHER IS BEING FIRED. I’m SICK OF ALL THE RUMOURS and speculation. A French teacher resigned and it’s a good thing he did. How do I know? I asked. Something it seems is foreign to any parent on this forum–go ask your Director, go ask a teacher. CM is mainly rumour and speculation and most people on this forum follow it like it’s the truth. Follow the proper channels people and Demand Answers from the DIrector. That’s what we are supposed to do.

      • LyceeMom2

        Yes, you are right, demand it from the Director, then if you do not get answers, go the the board.

    • Maruchie

      Concerned WB – The teacher in question has serious issues. Ask any parent with a child in his class. So, are you advocating that we keep bad teachers and forget about the children’s education? Kids in that class have already lost three months. The situation should have been dealt with earlier by the director. Yet another example of his ineffectiveness. I do not know the current status of the situation, but I do know that this teacher needs to be replaced. Afterall, the priority should be the children, don’t you think Concerned WB?

  • Nola

    I see a lot of talk about the budget hole here, and some speculation on where all that money may have gone, theft, out of budget spending etc. I think what many may be missing is that the way this school is structured is extraordinarily expensive. That is why there are not more little private public schools floating around New Orleans (sorry for the snarkyness). The multiple fee-based pre-ks do not pay for themselves (although they are an excellent deterent for poor families) because 4-5 thousand a year is not even half the amount required to educate a child (Joy Van Buskerk elaborated on this months ago…Wasn’t anyone paying attention?). The pre-ks alone are running on a deficit. Further, the smaller class sizes are very expensive to maintain. The building owned by the arch diocese is considerably more expensive to rent than other school buildings in town (and the Arch diocese will make no repairs). If everyone goes back to the budget meeting last year held by the LFNO board and actually LOOKS at the budget they will see how impractical it was. The maintenance and Janitorial expenses alone were way to low for 2 campuses. No food service was included (at all!). They were going to use surpluses to pay for the food service…. I have never seen such an odd budget for a school. I hope that that is not the budget that was submitted to BESE or we really need to look at BESE here too. Pubilc schools are expensive to run. Accomodations alone are tough. Also very expensive are the necessary French interventionists and French teachers that have a high base salary..and a charter that calls for a CEO and a director (yes, I know this was impractical for a school this size but that is how the charter was written), and money was spent on this for a year. Mr. Grandiere (who I have heard is ill) was not qualified to be the CEO of this school (no public school experience until last year I believe). Maybe this is why there are very few such public French Schools in the US (most are private and very expensive. ACS has a montessori program that holds up the french program when classes get small. It is very likely that the board just could not maintain the school with the money they were receiving. Add Mr. Grandiere’s inexperince and some bad choices to the equasion..and you arrive at fiscal mismanagement.

    Someone mentioned how wonderful everything was going last year financially. BUT, how do you know? Did you see a budget every month at every board meeting (you should have)? Was there a detailed statement of how things were going? I don’t think so. Finally (yes, its true..I’m almost done), it is not appropriate for a governing board to be involved in the day to day operations of a school. That is the CEO’s job. The board hires and monitors the CEO. Sorry to be a troll..but a bill of goods that just was not practical was sold to a lot of families that may not have a place at another school now…It’s a shame.

    • BlondieNola

      This is an interesting perspective, not a troll at all. Although pretty depressing to hear. Do you think this school can be salvaged at all? What are our options?

      • Nola

        I think as a parent body you must look at other schools who are doing this sort of thing and see how they make it. You must have an experienced public school administrator to handle the day to day operations and to handle testing (that’s next year folks and it is no administrative walk in the park…). ISL has a similar model, but with multiple languages they can take in children of all ages (we have enough of a fluent spanish community that I would guess that helps pick up the slack). As I said, Audubon has two curriculums. One allows children to enter at any age and assimilate. This keeps the numbers up. It seems like you will need 2 or 3 + buildings to support the vision of this school and the buildings should be close enough together to run them practically. Your current board does not appear to want to leave the golden walkways of Uptown New Orleans…so these buildings are going to come at a big price (developers are buying the falling down ones for over a million dollars..see article above). Again, the pre-k does NOT pay enough to support a building and ALL pre-k and k children have to be on the first floor (and don’t forget that’s private school …no federal funds should be spent on pre-k 3 and maybe pre-k 4). It’s a terrible financial model for a public school.. like a disfunctinal triangle..you have to be heavy in the grades that cannot bring in the money to support themselves, and the upper grades supporting the lower grades gradually get smaller with attrition. You need upper levels to support the pre-ks and you have to have french speaking kids to make it a french school. Aside from the FACT that members of your board have behaved very badly at other schools, the other reason you have so many trolls on this list is because the ONLY way your board could hope to support this program is by recruiting kids from other very viable and successful French programs.

        If you can find a stand alone french curriculum public school with no english component, give them a call and ask them how they do it. Right now the biggest issue you have is a number of board members that have not managed the budget well (because they want something that is not very public) and a CEO that is most likely a great French drector…but likely has never had the experience of running a public school. Public schools are VERY different because public funds are at stake and there are many bureacratic hoops to jump through.

        Advice: I would not pony up any donation money to keep the school running until I saw a accurate accounting of where all of the other money went and what is budgeted for the remainder of the year. You may write a big check and loose it all. OH..and you need to find board members from the community with no personal ties to the school. Lots of them…they are not really easy to find either.

        • BlondieNola

          How daunting! But thanks for your insight. I’d rather know the hard truth of what we’re facing. I’m very opposed to parents being on the school’s board, but the few that are on there seem to think they own this school, and are somehow above questioning.

        • Yetanotherparent

          “the ONLY way your board could hope to support this program is by
          recruiting kids from other very viable and successful French programs.”

          If parents are happy with their schools, they won’t leave, and if they AREN’T happy with their schools, they should have other options. I’ve talked to too many parents (regular parents, not people from the board or founders) who were miserable with those “successful” schools. As a type 2 charter, people can come from other parishes as well. Last year Jeff Parish school board threatened to close all immersion schools, which sent many parents running to the hills. Some of us HAVE no other “viable” options.

          And the trolls are just awful people. Period.

    • LyceeDad

      We have empty classroom folks but Lycee is still paying for those with the money we get for Students we have. Should we not have moved into this building?? But then how are we going to grow?

  • Seeking Transparency

    Is this posting for one of the teacher’s positions who were just laid off?

    new orleans craigslist > jobs > education

    best of craigslist

    Avoid scams and fraud by dealing locally! Beware Any deal Involving Western Union, Moneygram, wire transfer, cashier check, money order, shipping, escrow, or Any promise of transaction protection / certification / guarantee. More info

    Professor of schools (New Orleans)

    Date: 2012-11-02, 11:29 AM CDT

    Reply to this post hv3xq-3381655135@job.craigslist.org [ Errors when replying to ads? ]

    Computer School Teacher (replacements for the years 2012 to 2013 or the start of 2013.

    ” Please send your CV and fill the application ( http://www.lfno.org/docs/LFNO_Employment_Application.pdf ) the essential qualities of a school teacher: •  The versatility teaching of all subjects (French, mathematics, history, science, gym …) •  The ability to adapt to students, parents, programs (which change regularly), the American cultural environment. •  From energy. •  A good organization. •  From patience adaptation learning pace of each child repeat instructions, rules of group life … •  The sense of authority: the right balance between too much flexibility and too much authority •  From autonomy: the school teacher has some flexibility to teach the programs. •  The availability. •  From the curiosity and imagination. •  The versatility teaching of all subjects (French, mathematics, history, science, gym …) •  The ability to adapt to students parents, programs (changing regularly), colleagues … He must constantly question. •  In Energy: Managing a class all day, do surveillance, always be vigilant. •  good organization. •  From patience adaptation to the rhythm of each child’s learning, repetition of instructions, rules of group life … •  The sense of authority: the right balance between too much flexibility and too much authority •  From autonomy: the school teacher has some flexibility to teach the programs. •  The availability. •  From the curiosity and imagination. French School is an Equal Opportunity Employer. qualified applicants are All Encouraged to apply. Employment contingent upon successful completion of background investigation. Direct candidates only. This position Any Does not include relocation assistance. No phone call please.

    • LyceeDad

      A first grade teacher IS leaving. He has resigned but he is staying until a replacement can be found. How do I know? Because I asked after hearing “rumours” he was FIRED. Go ask any of the other teachers. It’s a good thing to. He NEEDS o go. Students are falling behind.

  • valerie

    Wow, What an embarrassment! As you can see, my real name is on this post. I was spending some time with two Lycee Moms and they told me about the issues at Lycee and about all the crazy post people put on here. Full disclosure, I am friends with Paige but this post is Not to Support her as my friend. This is to support a school you are trying to destroy. I have tried to stay out of the three-ring circus but I’m really afraid you guys are going to ruin an amazing school for everyone else. I am so sadden by the hateful intent by some of you people. My God, do you have any idea how much time and effort was put into getting this amazing school for YOUR kids (if you guys put that same effort into HELPING the school instead of BASHING the school you may have a better experience)? I personally know Paige and Jean and I know the time they take away from there families to make this school grow, as do all of the people involved in making any school grow. They are good caring people, trying to do something amazing for the kids of New Orleans. Do any of you people even know Paige and Jean? I don’t think you do because I KNOW THEM and I KNOW WHAT THEY DO FOR THIS SCHOOL. If you did know them you would not feel this way. They are VOLUNTEERS!!!! They have full time jobs and full time families and they are sacrificing there time for YOUR child. They may not be perfect but they are human beings and I’m trying to understand how some of you could be so cruel and post the things you have posted. I was told a parent at the meeting berated Paige with such vile disgust everyone was horrified and could not believe an adult was acting in such a manner. Is that the way a parent should act at her child’s school? Is that the way an intelligent person speaks to another person? Is that the way you teach your children respect? What is this parent doing FOR THE SCHOOL? It’s clear what she is doing to hurt the school. Is SHE putting in anytime at the school to make it better? My guess would be NO. I have a child at Audubon and Ecole. Neither of the schools are perfect but I would NEVER put so much energy into destroying either one. I have been at Ecole for six years and I have enjoyed it so much. I would not change the amazing experiences we have had at Ecole for any other school. For the most part, the parents work TOGETHER!!! It’s the community of Ecole that makes it amazing. The teachers would NEVER stand in a meeting and not support our school. The parents would never act in such an unsophisticated manner in the school our children attend. Our school had it’s own money problems but guess what; we came together as a community. We just found out Ecole is dropping it’s middle school program. I wish Lycee had a 6th grade class but sadly it does not. So if my other child does not get into Audubon we will have to leave the amazing French program. You people REALLY do not realize how fortunate you are to have Lycee and should be working with and not against the school. Do you REALIZE every school has issues? They just don’t have such horrible parents (if these post are really from parents). I do feel some of the post may not even be a parent from the school but people who just want it to fail (and we all know who you are). What I’m amazed by the most is you don’t see any other public school under the microscope for following rules and all this other mess like you guys keep going after Lycee. I am posting this because I believe in the French program and I believe in Lycee. Maybe instead of posting on hear you guys should do what every other school does, DISCUSS IT OUTSIDE OF THE THE MEDIA. If I was a potential parent and didn’t personally know how many years of blood, sweat, and tears went into this school I would think the parents at this school were ill behaved (and many of you are). Who would want their children going to school with kids that have parents like you? With that said, I also know a lot of the parents at the school who support it, love it, and are grateful to have Lycee. Instead of getting on the messenger and wasting time they are at the school working. I understand some of you have valid concerns that should be addressed but why are you doing it in such a public venue that only makes you and your child’s school look bad? I have my share concerns at Audubon and Ecole but I’m certainly not posting it on the messenger. The one thing I know; if you guys don’t straighten up and work together you will lose your school and New Orleans will sadly lose the chance to have another amazing French program. You can potentially lose a wonderful school for generations to come, not just your child. And this note is for the parents at Ecole and Audubon trying to destroy Lycee, STOP! I know you are hurt. I know you feel wronged by a new French program. I know some of the Lycee parents left our schools because they were unhappy and left in a huff. But stop. Please do not destroy an amazing chance for New Orleans to have a good school. All of you should be ashamed. I know I will get a lot of grief and people talking behind my back because of this post but I do not care. I care more about a school that is being destroyed. I don’t care if you don’t like the people who started the school or why they started the school but it is time to stop. Please put that effort into Audubon and Ecole and making our schools better and stop worrying about Lycee. If you are not one of these parents don’t come up to me and say a thing. If you don’t do these things then don’t try to make a case for them. If you want to address me on this comment use your name as I have. If not, stay behind your fake names so you don’t have to take responsibility for what you write. You can take this post anyway you like but I’m not hiding behind some silly name. I take pride in the French program and I want all French programs TO GROW shame on you!!!!

    • Wallflower

      Valerie, if you personally know Paige and Jean M. then you cannot be unbiased. And do you really think a group of parents voicing concerns, and yes, criticisms, are trying to destroy the school? Our children go to this school. We absolutely don’t want it to fail. We passionately want it to succeed and are calling out the people and the problems with this school. Paige and Jean are both parents too, so I know they don’t want the school to fail either, however, their over-involvement, micromanagement and questionable ethics ARE causing this chaos. I am so tired of hearing about Paige and Jean M.’s tireless efforts. You know what? They do focus a lot on the school — and that is a problem. A board should not be so enmeshed with a school as they are. They are overstepping their bounds and attempting to do jobs that don’t belong to them. They are getting in the way of the school running as it should, by administrators with much more experience than they have. And the end result? A school with severe financial issues, distraught teachers and outraged parents. You think that’s a good job? I don’t.

      • Wallflower

        To clarify, just because you care about something doesn’t mean you are doing a good job. Running a school is not a personal project. It requires real skill, which neither of them have demonstrated.

        • LyceeDad

          You have got to be kidding! It’s about time someone tell you the truth because you have obviously had the wool pulled over your eyes or haven’t been paying attention because the person who has demonstrated that they don’t know how to run the school is Director Grandiere himself. He has made bad decisions from day one. Including going to France this summer at a critical time. There was NOTHING in place to open Lycee. NOTHING. If it were not for this current board stepping in, Lycee would not have opened their doors.
          All you are doing is building a wall by having private parent discussions and closed Facebook pages.
          Why hasn’t anyone gone to director Grandiere and demanded answers in the first place?

          • Wallflower

            LyceeDad, I don’t know if you were around last year or not when Jill Otis was fired by the Board. The inept decisions they made last year, including that and their expansion, has caused a lot of issues with the French Government. Mr. Grandiere had to take a trip to France to speak with them and regain their support for the school. And I don’t want to hear that our relationship with them isn’t important; it is. I spoke with Mr. G personally about this before he left. He was quite stressed about having to go with all that needed to be done. And on top of that, his father, who lives in France, was begging him to come home to see his mother, who was very ill (possibly terminally). It wasn’t his decision to expand the school, nor is he in control of his mother’s health. Sheesh, give the man a break.

          • LyceeDad

            Amazing how you have so much misinformation. School in trouble; Need to regain support of school; Where did that come from? Lycee is in NO TROUBLE. Show me some actual facts.

      • Yetanotherparent

        Valerie does have a good point about not discussing this on a public forum where people who don’t have kids at the school and want to destroy it (like “Louie” and “Kally”) are lurking. We parents who are truly concerned for the school should be discussing this privately.

        • BlondieNola

          The “concerned parents” question sheet passed around at the PTO meeting (also handed to Mr Montes) had info about a private Facebook group where EVERY parent could discuss these issues using their real names, but only a few are on it so far. It looks like those in charge wanted to make this public, while the “concerned parents” wanted to keep this civilized. I would also MUCH prefer this be in the private FB group.

          • LyceeDad

            A “private” facebook page? Who controls the group? How do you know if the person asking to join the group is a parent? Does everyone get to join the “closed” group? That doesn’t sound very “open” to me. The only people I saw at the meeting the other night who were not civilized wer “concerned parents”

          • Yetanotherparent

            I took her to mean the page was open to all parents but closed to anyone outside the school, which would keep outsiders from interfering. This very public argument is damaging to the school, and generally on FB people are logged on using their own names.

          • Wallflower

            LyceeDad, the group is indeed open to all parents. There was an email on the bottom of the list of questions passed out at the meeting. You are free to join if you want, as is anyone else (except for the obvious trolls) And the anger you’re seeing is justified. You just don’t seem to have the history with Montes that some of the parents do.

          • LyceeDad

            Wrong again Wallflower. So what’s your “history”that you have become such a wall builder.

          • Valerie

            Wow seems like you agree with me here, since this is exactly what my post was about.

      • valerie

        Wallflower, I was sure no one would use there real name. I can be unbiased because I am a parent at two other French Schools regardless if I know the people (I’m an adult and I’m pretty sure I posted they are not perfect but the personal bashing is out of hand. I don’t have to be unbiased to know what is happening is wrong. Do you think one of your parents should being yelling at another human being at a school meeting?) . But I am not there everyday are you? You want a board not involved helping to get things done then join the board and take the reigns. I’m sure they would like more time at home. I have no problems with your school have issues, both of my kids schools have issues. Do you see us posting countless media statements to make our school look bad? NO!! You don’t know me either ( or maybe you do and just hide behind your name) so if you know me then you know, I want all the schools to grow the thrive. If you think the post your schools parents put out in the media does not reflect poorly on your school then you are mistaken. I posted so hopefully you guys would come together. But regardless of all of that WALLFLOWER, my point to you and all the other parents, have some respect for yourself, your children, and the school. You think they are the problem in the school, well work to help the school. Are you doing that? Stop the rants on social media. Wallflower you did not take the most important part of my message or you ignored it. Come together and work together or ALL of you will ruin it for more than your child. If you are unbiased you should have understood the main point of my message. Thanks for commenting how your school should come together because that’s how you can grow. No mention of that right? Again sent with all the respect for a new French School.

      • Maruchie

        Wallflower – I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you are really looking out for the best interests of the school. However, I think you are directing your frustration at the wrong people. The issue is not the current Board. From what I can see, they are in the process of trying to rectify errors made by the previous regime. Errors in finances, hiring, and structure of the school. They started by removing an ineffectual principal. They replaced an unskilled business manager with a highly competent one who is also a CPA. Thanks to her, a shortfall was discovered. This Board then moved immediately to slow spending and to find out why there is a shortfall by hiring an auditor. Seems to me, J Montes and his Board have acted responsibly. The situation with JJG is probably next on the list. As for the Board being too involved in day to day affairs of the school, I think there has been a big void and Board members have had to step in just to keep things going. Setting up the school was a good example. I volunteered over the summer, and JJG was not there. I asked where the director was and I was told he was on vacation back in France for a month! But, I did see several Board members incuding the two you mention above, giving many hours of their time to clean and set up. I also saw the contractors working hard too. But, without the director there to lead the establishment of the school, is it any wonder that there is so much disarray now? I know some teachers are still struggling to bring together all the materials they need for their classrooms. So, as I said earlier, based on what I saw over the summer and what I have seen since the beginning of the school year, I really thing your frustration is mis-direced. All that said, my child loves the Lycee and he has wonderful, highly competent teachers both in French and English. My personal opinion is that we need to get the right administrative structure with the right people in place so the Board can step away and let the school run and the teachers teach.

    • BlondieNola

      So you think asking where $90,000 went is BASHING the school? I think it’s HELPING the school evolve into a grown-up organization instead of a rich people hobby. And don’t you dare try to contort this into some anti-patriotism for the school thing. If the parents didn’t love this school they’d just leave. Only manipulative and cruel people MAKE the time for vindictiveness. Most people at this school are good and positive. Stop trying to polarize everyone into camp ‘for’ or ‘against’. Only the mommy mafia thinks like that.

      • Valerie

        Don’t be silly. Clearly as with Wallflower you did not understand or read the entire comment. I don’t think at any point, I said ASKING about $90,000 is bashing. Have you read the post BASHING the board? Have you read the post BASHING individuals? Were you at the meeting when a parent yelled at another human being? Is that evolved? Rich people’s hobby? I’m not even going to address such a ridiculous comment. Did I NOT make the comment for your community to come together? If you think posting nasty comments on a social media as showing support for your school than what can I say. BlondieNola, how could you POSSIBLY get that I am trying to have team for and against? MY ENTIRE POST WAS FOR YOU TO COME TOGEHTER!!!! What were you reading? Mommy Mafia? What is that?

    • AmyGeorge

      Valerie writes about her school “The teachers would NEVER stand in a meeting and not support our school.
      The parents would never act in such an unsophisticated manner in the
      school our children attend” Valerie–Please understand that our teachers stood in solidarity with each other, not against their school. Their statement was not contentious or against the school. They are doing a phenomenal job and our children are learning a tremendous amount and are happy in their school. And, yes, the meeting was contentious and some parents were quite emotional (and, yes, even rude at a few points), but we’re all in this together and I think we know that, as divisive as these comments may seem to you. There are problems to be resolved, certainly. We will resolve them together.

      • Valerie

        Hats off to you Amy!!! I hope so. I was not there and I’m basing my comment on looking back at the post on this site. I would have no doubt the teachers are amazing and I hope you understand my main purpose of my comment was for you guys to come together and hash your problems outside of social media. I will apologize for my comment about the teachers but my understanding was it may have been a statement of solidarity but it did not explain why and that confused the parents. But beyond that, I hope you can understand my main point, please work out the issues, please do what needs to be done, but the hateful (and I’ve gone back and read a lot of the post now) are destructive and by no means productive. I have people ask me if my kids go to Lycee all the time. You want to know why they ask? They are asking because of all the nasty stuff they see on this site. Please Amy you seem to have a sense of clam with you. My kids will never benefit from Lycee and one of my kids may have no choice but to leave the French Program we love so much. The only thing I’m saying Amy (my rant was kinda long) is stop posting it on social media. You do not see any other school hanging it’s dirty laundry out. At least Yetanotherparent got the real important part of my message. Good luck Amy, Lycee needs you to work out the issues!!!!

        • Louie

          Well said!

  • Maruchie

    I LOVE the Lycee. My son loves the Lycee. Our experience as a family has been very pleasant. The parent community is collaborative and caring. My son’s teachers are excellent and dedicated. My interactions with members of the current Board have also been pleasant. I find them to be intelligent, deeply devoted people who are trying to make decisions in the best interest of the children. As for Paige Saleun, my understanding is she was the person who originally had the idea for establishing the Lycee in NOLA and has been a driving force to make it happen. It seems to me we should probably be thanking her instead of attacking her as some have done. I have found the director of the school to be pleasant and open, however, my perception is that the Board has had to become involved in matters that should have been handled by the director of the school. And, as a parent, I am disappointed in how M. Jean Jacques handled the recent re-structuring (namely, no communication regarding the decision, which was disrespectful to parents and the three very nice women who were laid off). Regarding the shortfall, it seems to me that it would be best to reserve comment until the outside audit is completed. A 3% shortfall at the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year is not that alarming, However, it is good that steps were taken immediately to curtail spending. The source of the shortfall will be revealed in the audit, and hopefully there will be no nefarious association. Making any such accusation at this time is irresponsible and unnecessarily incendiary. We should let the facts speak for themselves, and in the meantime continue to enjoy our marvelous luck of having a great school like this right here in New Orleans!

  • LFNOParent

    I have to comment as I’m growing more and more frustrated with this wonderful school that I still have such high hopes for it’s continued success.

    We started when this school opened.

    Originally, it was an excellent school and then issues began…from the
    firing of the original CEO (who I might add had excellent experience and I believed to be doing a great job), expanding possibly too quickly, a board that operates borderline conflict of interest, we’ve seen excellent people fired because of budget shortfalls (though there’s discussion that there’s been spending on the part of the board that was not budget approved, and possibly more conflict of interest spending), we’ve seen an excellent Director reduced to being overly stressed due to the lack of continued administrative support (who I might add comes from a top notch private French school in San Francisco), and now basically teachers (French and English alike) concerned about their positions, lack of funding, and incredibly enough, volunteer parents running the administrative side and security of our school!

    So, I’m sorry to say, where my child is concerned, and watching a wonderful school going down the wrong road and with a serious lack of employees to run it, I personally see nothing wrong with angered parents. We’ve paid tuition the past 2 years, and even if we are able to continue on without an annual tuition from Kindergarten onwards, we should expect nothing less than an excellent school run by competent people, that includes the board and hopefully, actual employees to support the lack of administration. * What is up with volunteer parents being the sole administrative figures in a school!*

    If you are genuine in your concern of LFNO and it’s continued success, I would make sure to attend the Board meeting Monday and the Louisiana State Board of Education meeting scheduled to address concerns about LFNO on November 14 at the Sophie B Wright Learning Academy, 1426 Napoleon Avenue at 6:00
    pm. Bring your concerns and have your voice be heard.

    I don’t work or support for any particular faction. I work for my child and am not satisfied with the current board and the way this wonderful school as been reduced to functioning inadequately and inappropriately. I’ve seen wonderful people dismissed at the drop of a hat, and not only do those people suffer, but ultimately, so do our children and their wonderful teachers.

  • kristi

    We were accepted into Lycee for this Fall, made our $250 deposit but ended up moving on to another school due to our own feelings of uncertainty. The reason I am posting is out of curiosity if other in-coming parents at the school were also given an invoice for $500.00 after giving their deposits? Ours stated it was because our deposit was late (which it was not), and that if it weren’t payed in 10 days we would lose our slot. We were already going to have to pay the full tuition, so after calling the finance manager (i believe is what he was called), he could not give me a legitimate reason for the bill – but did maintain we had to pay it -as separate from our full tuition- “because we signed a contract.” I was upset about this, as well as confused & told him i would have to have my attorney look over what we signed for the school. Immediately, he responded with he could “just let it go” and “we’d forget about it.” So this was definitely confirmation for us that we needed to move on. I have no opinions otherwise with Lycee…I would just like to know if this happened to anyone else?