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Otis to step down as school leader; board elects Montes chairman, Banangada treasurer

Jill Otis, chief executive officer of Lycée Francais de la Nouvelle Orleans, will step down at the end of the school year. Her resignation as school leader was approved unanimously by the board of directors as they emerged from an executive session on April 2.

The announcement followed a special board meeting on March 26 which included an executive session to review Otis’ performance.

About a dozen parents were present for the April 2 meeting, a larger audience than typically attends board proceedings.

Some expressed concern about the resignation process and asked why more parents weren’t present for the discussion.

One parent asked the board for the reasons Otis was not returning. There were rumors, the parent said, that she was fired and did not amicably resign. He added that he had heard Otis was “devastated” and asked the board if she had actually been let go. He said he had a hard time believing that she willingly resigned.

Another parent said it was disrespectful of the board not to have notified more parents that Otis’ resignation might be in the offing. And another parent said she was sure other parents would be in shock over the resignation and needed to be reassured and supported through the transition.

The board respectfully acknowledged the parents’ concerns but did not provide answers to the questions raised.

Andrew Abrams, board chair, ended the discussion by reading a statement that said the board accepts the resignation and still has the “utmost respect” for Otis. The board will immediately begin to search for a replacement to start in the fall.

In other business, the board elected Jean Montès to serve as chairman, after two other nominees, Thomas Klinger and Allen Kelly, withdrew. The board also elected interim treasurer Hema Banangada to a full term as treasurer. Banangada was nominated by Catherine MacPhaille, who withdrew her own nomination.

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