International School of Louisiana poised to promote principal to new Head of Schools

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Principal Melanie Tennyson (right) speaks to other International School administrators in May of 2011. ( file photo by Robert Morris)

Principal Melanie Tennyson speaks to other International School administrators in May of 2011. ( file photo by Robert Morris)

With the departure of its school leader little more than a month away, the International School of Louisiana is preparing to promote the current principal of its Camp Street campus to lead the school system for the next three years.

Five members of the school’s governing board said that principal Melanie Tennyson is the right person to continue the school’s success after the departure of Sean Wilson, who leaves July 1 to become the principal of International High School. She has long been considered ready for the job if Wilson ever left, noted board president Matt Amoss.

“I think Melanie’s the right person for the job,” said board member Andrew Yon at a Wednesday night meeting of the Head of Schools committee. “New leadership coming in from the outside is frequently done to right the ship or change directions that the organization is going, and we don’t want to do that. We want to keep going in the same direction.”

The committee only had five of the 10 members of the school’s governing board present, one short of the number needed to issue a formal recommendation in favor of Tennyson’s appointment. That vote would still need to be taken at a full board meeting, however, and board member Chantell Reed said everyone was “on the same page” regarding Tennyson.

The only real question to be decided about Tennyson was how long to offer the job for — whether to make it a short, interim appointment to be followed by a national search, or to give her a more permanent contract. The board members present Wednesday expressed agreement that three years was a good starting point.

Only two ISL parents attended Wednesday’s meeting, and the only concern they raised about Tennyson was the “huge void” in leadership at the Camp Street campus her promotion will leave. Board member Dominique Wilson replied that she had personally raised the issue, and that Tennyson shared a strong vision for addressing it.

Yon said that no one was more aware of the need to maintain academic success at Camp Street than Tennyson herself.

“I left my meeting with her fully confident that she will not allow any slackening off,” Yon said.

The board spent much of the meeting discussing the ongoing search for a new finance director, and how to support Tennyson in that effort. To read our live coverage of the meeting, see below.

5 thoughts on “International School of Louisiana poised to promote principal to new Head of Schools

  1. The quality of financial reporting has improved in the last two years? Due to whose effort? The four qualified professionals (including THREE directors) who are no longer there due to Sean Wilson’s “leadership”? Withholding information, not including his finance director in contract negotiations or even providing the basic budget assumptions to do monthly analysis and state reporting? Or maybe it’s the whizbang consultants who were hired at over $2000 per week to do the job of qualified employees. And at least one of those people have absolutely no prior experience in the financial software used at ISL. ISL is wonderful academically but administratively it’s a dysfunctional mess.

    • To Anne Marie Hesson – So says a disgruntled former employee….ISL has always had a stellar audit report and no one (except you) has made any of the type of accusations you have made. Anne, please move on and let go of your anger and vindictive behaviors because no one is listening to you or taking you seriously. Facts continue to prove you and your agenda-based accusations wrong. There is an old saying that “A fish rots from the head”…if ISL were “administratively a dysfunctional mess” as you claim, it is very unlikely ISL would be the great academic success it continues to be as an A rated school, continue to win national recognition, and have more than three applications for every one opening each year. Facts are facts…..whether you like them or not.

  2. And as one parent has stated in another online forum: “A
    board can’t just say ‘promote from within.’ That is a very
    unprofessional way in which to replace the leader of your school. The
    job description needs to be clear and clearly posted for all that have a
    vested interest in the school to see prior to the process beginning,
    there needs to be a national search done, & the vision from each
    candidate needs to be able to be articulated by each candidate and based
    on a comprehensive mission that the board pits forth before someone
    could or should be hired for the position. The board’s current stance is
    lazy and not in the best interests if the school’s families. … Best
    practice states that the board should conduct a national search and if
    Melanie comes out as the best candidate then it’s a huge win for all of
    us. However not doing so guarantees that we will miss potential talents
    that are out there that board nor parents need to be aware of. In
    addition the board has a managerial and fiduciary responsibility to
    conduct the search.”

  3. Emails were sent out school wide they the Search Committee would be Thursday May 22, 5:30-6:30pm in a first floor classroom. Then the next day, after this report was out another email sent school wide “Oops we send the wrong date”. Parents are very upset! When asked if a new meeting could happen with input from parents we were told, No, the decision had been made and everyone way in agreement that Melanie should take the position.
    Board meeting info is generally easy to find. But when faced with possible questions from parents they always seem to hide them. I know of a few meeting that moved location last minute (in my opinion to get away from a parent who was not giving up on hard hitting questions).

  4. There have been many questions pertaining to finances from parents and former FTCO (former PTO) parents. The administration has not answered any questions which only leads to the immediate thought of guilt. Not only are finances a mess, but so is the way the Special Education Dept is run. Things do look bright, shinny and pretty from the outside. Poke around and you will be surprised.
    Anne Marie Hesson may be an outspoken disgruntled employee, but usually where there is smoke there is fire. I am sure she is not the only one. I do wonder if Employment Exit Agreements are used.

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