A Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans committee will interview 15 applicants next week to determine who will serve on the school’s governing board for the remainder of the year, and none of them are current board members.
A team of three officials sent by the state’s top educator told a large group of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans parents Monday night that their concerns about the school’s leadership have been heard, and that they intend to forge a plan to correct the problems and prevent them from being repeated.
Although many parents noted that they have been sharply divided over those issues, both sides expressed optimism about the arrival of the outside help. Several major questions remain, however, such as whether the cavalry has arrived soon enough to prevent any further damage to the school, and what ultimate authority the team’s recommendations will have.
The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans governing board will discuss a consultant’s work helping find a new school leader and hear reports on the 2011-2012 state audit, the coming year’s admissions process and current financials at its meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday in the cafeteria at 5951 Patton Street, according to the meeting agenda released Sunday afternoon. The board will also hold a closed-door session to discuss a pending lawsuit by a special-education teacher who was recently fired.
A group of parents and teachers at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans calling themselves the Rebuilding Trust Working Group sent a lengthy letter to the school board and numerous state officials outlining major problems with the school, including “unprecedented turnover” in leadership, micro-management by board members, an academic director who may not be credentialed in the French curriculum, board members who fill their own vacancies, lack of transparency about contracts and unresolved safety issues after recent budget cuts, according to a report at The Lens. The working group’s proposed solutions include removal of two board members, Jean Montes and Paige Saleun, or their recusal from the board until the lawsuit against them is resolved, involvement by the teaching staff in the search for a new school leader, a review of the academic director, the creation of nonvoting board members selected by teachers and parents and a renewed commitment to state Public Records and Open Meetings laws.
A group of about a dozen parents at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans sent a letter to state education officials asking for an official investigation into recent “missteps” by the school board regarding its firing and hiring of school leaders, according to a report by The Lens. State Superintendent John White replied via email that he is awaiting recommendations from a consultant he recently secured for the school about the “issues with the school’s operations that go beyond the appointment of one person,” the report states.
State Superintendent John White has asked the Louisiana Public Charter School Association to fund consultant Jeremy Hunnewell, a CPA with EMH Strategy, to help identify gaps in the leadership at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orleans, design and lead the search for a new CEO, clarify the leadership roles at the school and possibly help implement the recommendations, according to a letter obtained by The Lens.
Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans is being sued by special-education coordinator Darleen Mipro, who was fired Nov. 30 amid an accusation that she had “been engaging in misconduct” at the school, according to a report at The Lens.
Mipro’s lawsuit claims that by calling police to charge her with trespassing and disturbing the peace on the day she was fired and by emailing the unspecified “misconduct” allegation to parents, the school administration was attempting to damage her reputation as an educator, the report states. Mipro’s firing did take place during a confrontation at the school between teachers guarding a sign that read “The Board is Killing our School” and a man who was trying to tear the sign down, one parent told The Lens.
Lycee board chair Jean Montes declined to comment on the lawsuit to The Lens.
On Monday evening, the Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans governing board will ratify the hiring of an academic director and interim CEO who started work about 10 days ago.
With food, art and music, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans will host its second annual winter market fundraiser Saturday, Dec. 8.
Six New Orleans charter schools — including two immersion schools in the Uptown area, the International School of Louisiana and Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle Orleans — will have their admissions controlled by a central, citywide process for students enrolling in the fall of 2014, state officials decided Monday night.
As a cafeteria full of concerned parents listened closely, the Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans governing board approved $200,000 in cuts to the current year’s budget Monday night to make up for more spending and less revenue than expected just a few months ago, and hopefully restore the school to a path toward solvency by the end of the school year.
Left unresolved, however, was the school’s leadership issue. General Director Jean-Jacques Grandiere did not attend the meeting or the board’s 45-minute closed-door session about his status, and board chair Jean Montes suggested that “other options” to lead the school are being explored during Grandiere’s absence.
[Update: For a copy of the revised budget, click here.]
The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans board of directors will consider a personnel matter regarding the school’s general director during Monday’s board meeting, according to the agenda.
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.
Allegations that Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans is structured to favor well-off students and that it does not appropriately serve the city’s African-American population resurfaced on Tuesday afternoon when a series of complaints about the new French-immersion charter school were aired before the state education board in Baton Rouge.
Among the complaints were that the school has failed to follow through on an outreach program to a Central City daycare promised in its charter, that it is using state money to subsidize its private preschool, that students in the school’s new second grade are not being given adequate remedial instruction in French and that state education officials are intentionally ignoring those issues. No action was taken on the complaints, but the board asked its staff to investigate the claims and report its findings next month at a meeting in New Orleans.
The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans governing board will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight (Monday, Oct. 8) at the school’s Patton Street campus.
Marci Cornell-Feist, founder and CEO of The High Bar education management company, urged the board of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans to distinguish between the roles of the board and the school staff: “The school leader should be treated like a CEO,” she said, according to a report by Marta Jewson of The Lens on the board’s training retreat Thursday morning.
The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans board will hold a training session on charter-school governance during a retreat scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday at the school’s new campus at 5951 Patton Street, officials said.
“It’s been two weeks of school,” said board chair Jean Montes about running the new campus. “We’re very new at the process, but we’re happy with it.”