Jan 092017

French consul general Gregor Trumel (right) listens to Lycee board member Alysson Mills during a February 2015 board meeting. (UptownMessenger.com file photo by Robert Morris)

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans plan to seek a change to state law that would allow them to guarantee admission for children of teachers they recruit from France, officials said Monday night.

The issue arises in part from a timing issue, administrations explained at a meeting of the charter school’s governing board Monday evening. The school recruits its faculty after the end of the school year, after teachers have decided whether to return. By that time, however, the citywide EnrollNOLA app process has mostly concluded and the popular school’s seats are all filled, so new teachers recruited from France do not have the opportunity to send their children to Lycee — one of the only schools in the city to follow the same curriculum taught in their home country.

Lycee had originally hoped to guarantee admission for those children of French teachers by way of a change to its charter, which would only have to be approved by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. School CEO Keith Bartlett said Monday that state Department of Education officials have since determined that such a charter change would contradict state law, and instead are now suggesting that the school seek a change to the law instead.

“They told us they’re very hopeful that the legislature will be open to these changes,” Bartlett told the Lycee board.

The change to the admissions process would not need to displace any local children from seats at Lycee, said school academic director Marina Schoen. Each incoming kindergarten class would still seat 125 students, and Lycee would simply add any children of French teachers recruited over the summer to the rolls. Because only around 10 or 12 of the school’s approximately 32 teachers from France have children, only one or two extra students would need to be added to each grade, well within the school’s capacity, Schoen said.

The French consulate is working with Lycee to seek the change, and Schoen said that French education officials would prefer to see an even broader change — guaranteed admissions for all French nationals, as part of their view that French-accredited schools abroad should serve French citizens. Lycee’s primary interest, however, is admissions for children of teachers from France, particularly because of its role in recruiting, Schoen said.

“It’s really our ability to keep the teachers here, because if their kids can’t go to school, they won’t come, they won’t stay,” Schoen said. “Then it’s too late to get other [French] teachers to come stay and fill those spots.”

The bill would need a sponsor in the state legislature, perhaps one of the local state representatives or one whom Lycee has gotten to know through statewide immersion-education activities, Schoen said. Even if it passed this summer, it still might not take effect until admissions for the 2018-19 school year, she said.

Monday’s meeting also covered brief updates on the school’s 2015-16 audit report, the board’s task force studying special-education policies, and progress on the Priestley campus renovations. See below for live coverage.

Live Blog Lycee Francais board meeting – Jan 9, 2017

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