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 major part of the selection process for the school’s new board took place electronically prior to the nominating committee’s first meeting Monday night. First, consultant Jeremy Hunnewell gathered applications for the board vacancies through the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools’ online submission form. He screened out-of-state applicant out of the pile, and forwarded the rest to the five member of the nominating committee, he explained in Monday’s meeting. Each of the five members then replied with a list of those they’d be interested in interviewing.
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. Caroline Roemer Shirley, leader of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, said that Lycee’s issues have been a source of frequent discussion at the state level, particularly between her and state Superintendent John White. While parents generally seem satisfied with the classroom instruction and the school’s finances seem to be recovering from a deficit at the end of last year, Roemer Shirley said that frequent complaints about the school’s governance have attracted the attention of the state.
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.
The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans governing board approved the hiring of an interim CEO on Monday night, then several board members convened a private meeting with about 50 teachers and parents to discuss the decision and other issues facing the school. Board chair Jean Montes opened the meeting with a short monologue apologizing for what he described as the board’s failure in the past to provide strong enough oversight to the school’s activities. He then announced that after the board meeting, several board members and staff members would hold a private meeting open only to parents and teachers. “We have not always made the right decision, but we have always made decisions that we believe are in the best interest of the students and the school,” Montes said. Montes then introduced Gisele Schexnider, a French teacher at the Louise McGehee School whom he appointed as academic director and interim CEO about 10 days ago, as an “excellent leader.”
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. Gisele Schexnider, who has taught Lower School French at the Louise McGehee School for the last four years, was announced Nov. 30 as the short-term replacement for Jean-Jacques Grandiere until a permanent school leader can be hired in the summer. “Madame Schexnider has been mentioned and recommended highly as a potential leader by some of our
teachers and others in the community, and some of our teachers are already acquainted with her, so we are
anticipating a busy but smooth transition,” board chair Jean Montes wrote in a letter to parents. Montes and fellow board member Dan Henderson have been filling in since Grandiere’s resignation Nov.
With food, art and music, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans will host its second annual winter market fundraiser Saturday, Dec. 8. For more information see the following press release or visit the event website:
Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans is holding its 2nd annual Marché D’Hiver (Winter Market) to raise funds for La Liaison, the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization. The market will be held on Saturday, December 8th from 10am to 6pm, and is done in the French holiday tradition, featuring a family friendly atmosphere of arts, crafts, food and music. This year’s warm food and beverages will be supplied by Taceaux Loceaux, Château du Lac, Patois, Cochon, Nacho Mama’s, and Velvet Coffee.