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After misstep, Lycee leads the way to full compliance with state law

One of two Lycee Francais’ campuses is on South Claiborne Avenue. photo: The Lens

Back in June, as the Lycee Francais Charter School board prepared to take a vote on the school’s 2012-13 school budget, a reporter from The Lens told board members that they had not given proper public notice that the vote was pending, a violation of state law.

The board members promptly took action, and today Lycee Francais is one of the few charter schools in New Orleans in full compliance with state law regarding its budget vote.

Ahead of a budget re-vote in July, as required by state law the board placed an ad in The Times-Picayune, the city’s “official journal.” It notified the public that a copy of the budget was available for review and that a meeting had been scheduled to ask questions and provide feedback before the vote.

Following the vote, members placed another ad in the local newspaper stating that the vote had taken place, a requirement of the law often overlooked by charter school boards.

Jean Montes, chairman of the Lycee board of directors, said members were more than happy to comply with state requirements. He said the first vote was held without proper notice because the board was unaware of the proper procedure for voting on its budget. The reporter’s inquiry prompted Montes to double-check charter law with the state Department of Education and the state charter association, he said: “I was committed to verify it and execute it even beyond the expectation of the law.”

“By researching and asking about the process … we were able to understand our role in carrying out the process fully, which led us to providing the public notice before and after the budget was voted on,” he said. “As board chair, I have decided to hold Lycée Francais’ operation to the highest standards since this is what we expect from our students. I think it is fitting to lead by example.”

Montes said the board will continue to consult with the state about best practices and to make sure the school is in full compliance with state law going forward.

“As public entities we should embrace transparency at all times so the community and tax payers can be fully aware of how public funds are being managed,” Montes said. “Parents and (the) community at large have expressed their appreciation for being included in the process.”

As for the board’s quick attention to the reporter’s inquiry, Montes said, “I, for one, feel that it is much easier and simpler to do the right thing.”

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