Lycee Francais chooses general director, accepts board member’s resignation

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In an effort to move past the uncertainty and controversy of the last month, the governing board of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans gave a permanent appointment to its popular school leader and accepted the resignation of an embattled board member on Friday night.

Board president Jean Montes also proposed engaging an outside firm to train the board in better school governance, and described a new committee structure that he said will bring a new level of community involvement to the board’s decisions.

The Friday-night meeting comes after a tumultuous month for the school. After the resignation of principal Jill Otis in April, the board began advertising for a permanent general director — raising the concerns of many parents that school leader Jean-Jacques Grandiere might be next to leave. Then, in the board’s regular May meeting, board member Kenneth Charity sought to have Allen Kelly voted off the board for suggesting in an email that a third board member, Paige Saleun, receive a “bitchslap” over her handling of the addition of a second grade to the school next year. After the vote failed to get the needed 2/3 majority to remove Kelly, Charity resigned the next day.

Before an audience of about 15 people at 8 p.m. Friday, Montes opened the meeting by saying that the search for a general director was over, and that Grandiere had been chosen. The board evaluated nine applications in the search, Montes said, but “we ended up with Mr. Grandiere being on top.” Grandiere thanked the board for their confidence, pledged to work with them, the staff and the parents on next year’s challenge of moving into a new school building, and then was unanimously voted into the position to applause from both the parents and the board.

Next on the night’s agenda was the discussion of Kelly’s future on the board, but about an hour before the meeting, Kelly sent the board a tersely-worded email resigning: “I hereby resign from the LFNO, Inc. Board of Directors contingent upon and pending the nomination and election of my replacement,” Kelly wrote, saying he would abstain from any board activities until he is replaced.

Kelly did not appear at the meeting, and Montes announced his decision to the audience. Montes said that Kelly was aware of the discord his comments created, and said that his resignation will allow the board to move forward.

“He’s going to find ways to continue being a positive contributor to the school,” Montes said, praising Kelly’s work in helping establish the school. “It’s a personal decision that was very difficult for him to make. It’s something he had to come to a decision on himself.”

One audience member asked Montes whether any other board members should resign, and Montes said he would see to it that no more behavior beneath the school’s standards was tolerated. He then moved into the next topic, contracting for board training with The High Bar, a national charter-school management consulting group. The High Bar would give the board guidance on issues such as setting goals, running meetings and choosing new members, Montes said, and he proposed that each board member personally contribute $1,000 toward the program’s $7,000 annual fee.

“The idea is that as long as we exist, we need to find ways to do things better, and find out what best practices are,” Montes said. Explaining the need for the board members to pay themselves, he added, “”It is something I think we need to invest in.”

Jeff Teague, a Lycee parent and member of the Akili Academy charter school board, said from the audience that he had been through training sessions with The High Bar and found them to be worthwhile.

“I have to commend you for putting up your own money,” Teague said. “That training is really good, and I can tell you from firsthand experience.”

Other board members asked Montes for time to look into the proposal themselves, and Montes agreed to postpone a decision on it. He then shifted to the final topic of the night, the creation of four new committees — finance, governance, development and academic excellence — that will include both board members and members of the Lycee community. The members will be chosen in the coming weeks by each committee chair, Montes said, but they will be drawn from anyone interested in serving.

Each committee will have two or three board members, and two or three community members, Montes said, suggesting that anyone interested in serving email him at At the urging of an audience member, Montes said an invitation to apply for the committees will also be placed on the school website.

To read our live coverage of Friday’s meeting, see the box below.

7 thoughts on “Lycee Francais chooses general director, accepts board member’s resignation

  1. Wait a second! Paige Saleun is heading the governance committee?!? And she has repeatedly said she will pick only people who agree with her? I’m glad they’re getting board training, but maybe she need remedial classes first. Who appointed her chair of governance? That’s really scary.

  2. Thank you to LFNO for hiring back Jean-Jacques as the general director. He did a fabulous job this year and we are excited to come back to school next year. Thank you, also, to the board for doing the hard work that needs to be done to ensure the continued growth and success of our new school and our students. Cheers!

  3. Finally we have Jean Jacque for sure next next. Board don’t realize what he has done. And very sad about Paige Saleun remaining on the board. she really did a lot of harm to the reputation of the school.

  4. I am very glad that Mr. Grandiere has been confirmed as our general director.

    PS does seem to have been a negative person on our board. The 2nd grade addition is unpopular with many parents. She seems to be at the center of a lot of negativity for LFNO–picking online fights with parents at other French schools, using school emails for her restaurant email list, and board issues. I hope Mr. Montes will indeed see to it that future behavior is held to better standards, especially if she’s leaving a governance committee.

    Overall, we have a great school with wonderful teachers and now a great general director. I hope the board problems are improving now.

    • FYI — This LFNO Parent is different than the one on the other thread. That other one is me, this parent is someone else.

    • There are several negative consequences that might occur for Lycee in regard to the addition to the second grade. Some students that have been accepted have no instruction in French. Lycee should create an English strand for students it accepts in that situation. Those students would then get French immersion until they are up to speed, and then be switched to the French government curriculum. All of the accepted second grade students have not come through the Lycee program. It is difficult to know if some or all are on grade level. If not, this places an undo burden upon the teachers. The state has added second grade testing this year. Lycee’s reputation could be tarnished if the second grade students do not do well on the state test. The school also has created two classes to accommodate 30 second grade children. Perhaps state funding will cover those costs, but with increases in benefits, etc., this could prove to be another fiscal problem for the school. With education costs sky rocketing today, it is essential to ensure that the school budget can withstand these pressures. Couple with that, 7 pre-K classes that are not fully funded, the costs of renting three facilities, and I wonder, if the board really understands
      what it is doing. My concern is the use of taxpayer dollars. Are those dollars being used effectively and efficiently? Will the school be cited for unwisely using taxpayer monies? The addition of a second grade was a very big risk to the Lycee program. That is what happens when a selfish board member focuses on her needs, and not the school’s. It is time for the board to make the tough decision, and ask her to step down. From what I have read, some parents agree.

  5. I agree that the board seems to be moving in the right direction, with regard to board training and the finalization of Jean-Jacques’ position, but I also do agree that Ms Saleun is not beneficial for the school. I have personally had friendships end due to her divisive and manipulative ways, and quite frankly, her lying. This seems to be a pattern that she follows; I have heard similar stories from people who were affected by her involvement at other French immersion schools. Overall, the rest of the board seems professional and motivated by the school’s best interests. I have hopes for the best, as I really would like to see this school succeed.

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