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Lycee Francais parents want resignation of 2 board members

More than a dozen Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans parents are seeking the ouster of two of the charter school’s board members, and they are demanding the board address what they say is a series of problems undermining the school’s integrity.

In an eight-page letter they filed with the school’s board Friday, the parents complain of leadership turnover, board micro-management, business-related conflicts of interest and possible breaches in student privacy and safety.

Calling themselves the Rebuilding Trust Working Group, the parents are demanding that board President Jean Montes and board member Paige Saleun resign or recuse themselves until a lawsuit filed against them by a former teacher is resolved.

Neither Montes nor Saleun responded Friday to The Lens’ requests for comment.

“Lycee is a school worth fighting for,” the parents wrote, requesting that the matter be added to the board’s Monday night meeting agenda. “This must be corrected promptly and confidence restored or this stellar educational environment may be lost.”

In its second year, the 340-student Lycée Français has endured the resignations of two school leaders, and just two of its original nine members remain on the board. The board in November voted to cut $200,000 from its budget after learning of a $85,000 deficit. Last month, a fired special education teacher sued Montes and Saleun, alleging character defamation after the police were called.

In Friday’s letter, signed by 15 people and delivered to the board by New Orleans attorney Robert Rachal, the parents’ detailed the following concerns:

Turnover: Only two of the nine original board members are still serving, and two school leaders have come and gone.

Disproportionate power to a few: Board members are filling vacancies as they occur, a process, they write, that “allows the remaining board members to form factions and exercise disproportionate control over the board and thus the school and public funds.”

Student safety and privacy concerns: Since November,  the grievance says, no administrative employees were at the school to “answer phones, doors, messages and parent requests, sign in visitors and to manage the private personal information of the students and teachers.” The situation has recently been resolved during school hours, they write, but not when children are in after-care. The parents wrote that they were concerned the lack of oversight during that period may have threatened security of confidential student and employee records.

Potential conflicts of interest and lack of transparency: “Major concerns have also arisen regarding budgeting and finance and lack of transparency on what are public funds,” the letter says. It cites by way of example a $13,500 contract the school had with Sweet Olive Design and Development Company for nine months from October 2011 to June 2012, which was later increased to $75,000 a year and signed by Montes.

The letter states that the company is run by someone who is “a personal friend and business associate” to Saleun and Montes.

Sweet Olive owners Mary Carstens and Lora Reugger told The Lens Friday that neither of them met Montes until early 2011, when they volunteered their services to help the school with its fundraising efforts.

Reugger said she had known Saleun since about 2009 because their kids attended the same school. She said she’d become friends with Saleun in 2010, but that she doesn’t believe that relationship had any influence over the business contract because it was other school officials who approached her about doing the work.

Carstens said she did do some work on the website for  Chateau du Lac Bistro in Metairie, where Saleun’s husband is chef, but that it was after she was already working for Lycee. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State’s corporations database, Saleun is an officer and registered agent for the business.

Carstens estimated their company has brought in about $900,000 to Lycee through its fundraising efforts and by improving the way the school reports student funding data to the state.

“I do believe that the statements in the grievance letter amount to defamation,” Reugger said, adding that she and her business partner have contacted an attorney.

The parents say quick action is warranted and necessary.

“The recent actions at Lycee,” the parents wrote, “have caused a loss of confidence in the abilities or integrity of the school … Many parents and many outstanding French teachers of Lycee may be lost unless these issues are resolved promptly.”

Besides demanding two board members resign, the group is asking that teachers be included in the selection of a new principal/chief executive officer.

Jean-Jacques Grandiere, their last CEO, resigned in November and was replaced shorty after by Interim CEO Gisele Schexnider, a move some parents complained happened without proper board discussion or input from the school community.

The parent group also wants three non-voting positions to be added to the governing board – two members elected by the school’s parents and one elected by the teachers.

Carstens and Reugger said they felt the demands are representative of only a few disgruntled people and not the greater school community that includes about 600 parents.

“A lot of good things happen at this school,” Carstens said. “I wish parents would stop trying to micromanage.”

Last month, state schools Superintendent John White offered his assistance finding a consultant to help Lycee leaders find a new CEO.

Some of the same parents who signed Friday’s letter – a group of 14 – wrote a letter in response asking White to investigate the board’s recent decisions, including its hiring of Schexnider.

Rachal, the attorney for the Rebuilding Trust Working Group, copied a number of people on Friday’s letter, including White and the head of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, whom White asked to assist the school in its search for a permanent leader.

Barry Landry, a spokesman with the Louisiana Department of Education, said late Friday that White had not yet received the letter.

The group filed their complaints with the board as step two in a process outlined by the state’s Office of Parental Options, which asks that parents first speak with their charter school’s administration, then with the board and finally file a grievance with the school’s authorizer.

The parent group made it clear in the letter that they intend to continue collecting signatures in time for Monday’s meeting.

The school’s board of directors will hold a public meeting Monday at 6:30 p.m. at 5951 Patton St.

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  • Josh Reyher

    There are approximately 350 students attending Lycee. Almost that many families when considering siblings attending the school As mentioned above, there are about 600 parents of those students. 15 parents equals 2.5%

  • Melisa Rey

    I disagree with most of the grievance and the manner in which it was submitted. I support our school and our interim ceo and I am most thankful to the board for acting swiftly to provide us with strong leadership during a very unstable time. I am so sad that such passionate parents, teachers and others are so angry that a polite and amicable resolution hasn’t been possible yet. We have good people on all sides. Lycee is a great school.

  • kally

    This school is a PUBLIC school and therefore must follow the rules of its charter. This charter is not just a piece of paper that gives the board suggestions, it is a legal document. The board needs to be vigilant about this as they are dealing with public funds. When this board stops acting like a private school board, the school will stop having as many problems and start looking like a Public school representing all races ( and I mean more than just 20 african american families out of the 300) The teachers will have security and the investigations will stop. It seems the many “happy” parents really don’t want that to happen. They want a free school, but one that does not act or look like one.

  • creole 65

    These people lie so much that I feel sorry for any parent that believe thateverything going to be alright . First of all, the two ladies that own “sweet olive” were hanging around Lycee with Paige from the very first informational meeting held on claiborne ave. to tell parents about this new school opening in the fall. The were at all the meeting, registration and otherwise. I knew that they said they were ” volunteering” but I knew better. No one gets that involved without looking for something back. I mentioned to a couple of board member that Paige was going to get them a job , just like she determined the uniforms and the company where they had to be bought. I wondered why , aloud, why this did not have to be offered up for a public bid as this was state money. I started to watch what was going on when I asked for a job application for a office clerk and none could be provided. This was for someone who worked at another French Charter . By the time they but this online the jobs had been filled will friends of friends.ISL succeeds, because all their hires go thru a temp. agency.

    This school was on its way to becoming one of the best charters in the State until Paige started to use whatever limited power she had wreck havok. Because people were telling her they didn’t think a second grade was a good idea , she held up a report telling the board how much money was made from the ” Festival Musique ” or whatever it is called. this is the way she plays on the board.

    I’m ecstatic someone is doing an audit, if these women brought in 900,000 thru their wheir is all this money. Still buying furniture? Oh! maybe somrone needs to look into that fiasco.

  • tree

    Two teachers have resigned. Others will follow. Paige and Montes need to step down immediately if the school has any chance of continuing to be the quality school it has become… because of the teachers!!! Repeat: not because of Paige – someone who does not show respect towards others and is disliked by MANY probably due to that. Paige seems to think she has some secret info that no one else could possibly possibly understand. Here is some info for her… charter schools do NOT have to be business focused or more accurately businessed fetish! That is one interpretations of how charter schools should run. Another viewpoint is that this school be a french curriculum charter with the quality of education being its primary focus. It is sad that Paige et al unethical business practices are being allowed to infiltrate such a visionary concept re use charter school explosion to promote a truly authentic french curriculum. Furthermore, it does not matter that this school started because Paige was not liked or likeable at another school. The point is this is not HER school but her greed and ego will destroy it unless she and Montes step down – there is a chance of its survival. One another note on BUSINESS – one understands in business that the product is as important as the business plan, its PR and the numbers! It is only unethical and bad businesses that lie about their products or services. If these teachers go and Paige and her buddies are set up to hire whomever from wherever, the quality of the education re the product will decline and I would say severely. If Paige and her hiring/firing squad are so business savvy why have they hired Giselle – someone who is so clearly unfit fot the job it is a disgrace! My advice is KEEP Paige, Mary, Montes and Giselle FAR away from the business side of the school. They have no clue what they are doing!!! Important information to think about. Even if this school “makes it” after this group of teachers has gone, it will not make it long after that. Some is going to catch and put an end to it! I personally am not staying around for that.

  • Janine

    I support the school and the administration. There is a lot if misinformation being passed off as fact. It needs to stop. Things have not been ideal at this school, however, there is a promise to remedy these things. It has been my experience that problems are being solved.

    It is important for the public to understand that the vast majority of parents are VERY Satusfied with the school. Unfortunately, the unhappy minority are the most vocal.
    I wish this group of dis satisfied parents would allow the people in charge of taking care of things the oppotunity to do so before risking the very school they profess to value so highly.
    Also, I realize this is optional in this format, but it is difficult to credit any comments without a real name/identity. Also, it is unnecessary to drag the names of board members through this forum, especially if they are not involved in the conversation.
    I am a parent at the school. I am sticking it out and trust things will be handled adequately by the present admin.
    Maybe the parents who are less than delighted should look into their options, and see how much transparency and respect is given to board meeting attendees and/or teachers at other schools.

  • ALICE MIDKIFF

    If the grievance process doesn’t work (which unfortunately results in a lot of time and paperwork and hoop jumping – with the charter authorizer hoping that the party’s interest and publicity die down), it seems that the alternatives are Civil District Court (which one teacher has already filed suit), public records request by a really good attorney who has an iron in the fire, Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA), Louisiana Ethics Commission, IRS, independent audit firm who conducted the annual audit (pursue it even if the annual audits “look” clean – i.e., unqualified)

  • Julie

    As a Lycee parent I am extremely unhappy that a small minority of parents that call themselves Rebuilding Trust have put themselves out in the media as representatives of the parent body. The majority of us DO NOT agree with this group. They are driven in part by employees who have been let go and have allowed themselves to be mislead. I’d be a lot more impressed if the parents in this Rebuilding Trust group each took action to solve problems instead of thinking ousting the board and getting a new one will do the trick. Or start another school. There is plenty of demand.

  • James Bienvenu

    I hate that this small group of very vocal parents are making it seem like this school is so terrible. There are so many parents that see how great the school can be for this city/state. We just feel so frustrated because the people that are against certain aspects are so passionate about their views they can’t see any other way, that is very frustrating!

  • James Bienvenu

    teachers need a voice in choosing principal and ceo. Aren’t teachers here for a couple of years so what happens when they leave and new teachers don’t like the principal do they get to replace them. Also i don’t get to choose my boss just saying, wtf!

  • Jimmy Bienvenu

    teachers need a voice in choosing principal and ceo. Aren’t teachers here for a couple of years so what happens when they leave and new teachers don’t like the principal do they get to replace them. Also i don’t get to choose my boss just saying, wtf!

  • tree

    it is not just some parents! 14 of the 18 teachers have decided and declared that if the current conditions do not change, they will NOT be back next year. that is a drastically different change in the school!

    the “choosing” the boss is not the issue. the “choosing” someone competent enough to fulfill the job requirements, to lead and direct the school, is the issue. anyone in business understands the leadership, direction, is extremely important to fulfilling the goals and to succeeding. anyone in anything knows this.

    please stop and think a bit.

  • Jonah Still

    Hmmmmmmmm,

    Dear group of 14. Please list your names. Forgive me if you have. But I’d like to know the names of the parents who would react so poorly and childishly so I don’t play with you on the playground. Reminds me of our great government that is running so well. And the teachers that are griping… Hmmm lets see you are from France and you are allowed to strike? Hmmm Sorry to be so be so negative, but this is the crazies bunch of “malarky” I’ve read in a long time.

    See how it feels? Not so good.. Not so positive. Not so Progressive. I feel Like I’m watching the news about “Linsey Lohan” or Jerry Springer…

    Yes people are pissed, but resolve things properly. Let’s see most of the board has quit and the 2 that have been there the longest is now being used to make “Foie Gras” No matter if the accusations are correct or not, Please state the facts with sources and not speculations.

    I don’t know enough about either side, but GROW UP.

    There are real problems today. Volunteer to fix the issues. Be part of the solutions.

    I’m not even a parent of a child that goes to this school. So it’s none of my business :)

    I do know some of the people that are being accused and they are not my favorite friends ;) So hopefully that will help the group of 14 in their quest of finding more dirt.

    No matter what the truth is think of the kids. They go to this school and things need to be positive. Become a board member yourself. Get rid of the older board members by contributing if you think it’s wrong. But crying like this hurts no one but your own kids. Please show your kids the correct way to resolve problems.

    But here I go preaching again and My wife needs me to put on her corset.. so I must go.

    later

  • Nola

    The teachers are all certified in the French Curriculum. They are likely considerably more qualified to assist in the vetting of candidates for director. There are no real educators on the board. Someone who knows about education should be involved in picking a qualified principal. Additionally, the parents who are happy, must not care that their children are not receiving the education that was promised to them.

  • Keli

    Since when do teachers pick the director??? Does this happen in other schools? I can’t imagine if I told the organization that I work for, that we feel the employees should be the ones to pick our supervisor…..what is that???
    And sorry, “group of 14″ (sorry,I refuse to refer to you by your selected name) , I do not feel you represent the majority of parents by any means and feel you are doing much more destruction than help. I’m sure you mean we’ll, but this is a disgrace. Find a better war to focus your energy.

  • MW Fandino

    If this 14 member “working group” is indeed so concerned about the school, you’d think they could manage to spell the name of the school correctly. Enough said.

  • Jimmy Bienvenu

    if 14 out of 18 teachers are going to leave over people in charge what kind of commitment to your kids do they have. they are willing to just pack their bags because they don’t like this or that. this is a brand new school in a redeveloping school district, there will be problems. if the teachers aren’t up to it i am sorry but i want someone that is willing to work it out instead of just giving up.

  • tree

    The “group of 14″ represent the teachers too. That is to say, the teachers who provide the education that you respect, from which the children benefit.The teachers are professionals who give their stamp of approval on the curriculum. If that “product” is not up to standards, the teachers cannot sign off on it. The big trouble here is that the people who are not listening to what the teachers are and have been saying are those who take education for granted or cannot even imagine what good education is. and that is a very different approach. The professional teachers nwill have no choice but to leave. Any professional I know will leave a project or a company if the service offer ed or the company is not quality – smart people bring their talents elsewhere.

  • Wallflower

    I thought I would go through a little history here, for those of you who have no idea what is going on, and for those of who are trying to deny what is going on.

    Founding principal resigns.
    Her years of experience, within the N.O. public school system, are dismissed. Her “personality” gets attacked. She is VILIFIED. The school is left with one leader.

    Founding academic director/CEO resigns.
    His years of experience, as an Academic Director with training in the French educational system, are dismissed. He is called inept. He is VILIFIED. The school is left with no administrative leadership.

    Most administrative staff are fired, due to budget shortfall.
    It was alternately stated this was due to budget cuts, later that “they weren’t doing their job.” They are VILIFIED. The physical safety of the children and confidentiality of their records are compromised.

    Lead English/special ed teacher is fired.
    Her years of experience, at schools with stellar reputations, are called into question. She is referred to as unstable and is VILIFIED. She files a lawsuit against the school and two board members, stating they are attempting to destroy her reputation. The school is left without special education services and a lawsuit on their hands.

    Teachers protest.
    Their commitment to the school, and to the children, is questioned. They are criticized because of their Frenchness and because they dare to speak out against conditions they view as stressful and intimidating. They are VILIFIED and fear for their jobs.

    Parents and teachers organize/retain lawyer.
    Their commitment to the school, and to the children, is also questioned. They are called trouble makers because they dare to speak out against all of the above. They are VILIFIED.

    French baccalaureate is de-prioritized.
    Parents are told this is not a big deal. The school knows, with its reputation, accreditation is not an option at this time. Parents are informed that this degree is almost useless here in America. We await that program to continue to be VILIFIED.

    CODIFIL is also not a priority, due to the fact that this organization may decide to opt out of sending teachers to the school next year. Parents are told that there are other options for hiring teachers and the organization is criticized for one bad hire. It is in the process of being VILIFIED.

    Hmmm, but I guess all is well at this school. Parents should not be concerned about sending or keeping their kids here. Seems like there is a long history of problems, and a prevalent theme of VILIFYING everyone and everything that questions this entity. Healthy, right? Not a toxic environment, right? And the parents protesting are being called out as pot stirrers and media seekers? You must be kidding me. They have no other choice, in order to save this school. These people are the ones who are desperately trying to rebuild this school into something worth having, something everyone can benefit from. And if you succeed in driving them away, the only apparent brains and balls at this school, good luck with your fledging school. You will be lucky to get a substandard education and experience. I think those parents want and expect more. So stop excusing away this nightmare, and get out of the way. If you are not willing to fight for this school, step aside, please, and let someone else do it.

  • Wallflower

    One more thing I would like to add to the timeline…

    Media interest in the school becomes apparent.
    School officials attempt to suppress the story. Some parents actively try to brush it under the rug. Parents are intimidated into not speaking out. The media, including specific persons, is VILIFIED.

  • Mathilde

    Wallflower – I completely agree. Very well said. So many new parents don’t understand how long this has been going on, and how much damage has been done. Their denial is probably because it’s inconceivable unless you saw it with your own eyes. And of course, no one wants to believe a failure of this magnitude can exist when it involves our children and so much public money. But head in the sand or not, it IS happening.

    People keep saying this parent “working group” should have gone through the appropriate channels, but it did. They were ignored repeatedly, and then VILIFIED, as you’ve said.

    “Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle merite.” -Josephe de Maistre

  • kally

    Wallflower, you got it!!! The parents questioning this board want this school to be a real school, a great school.

    Don’t forget the dropping of the ball with Mcmillian day care and the comingling of federal funds. This board knew about that too and hoped to get away with it. Oops, following the rules may make the school a little too “public” for their taste. Mcmillian is also VILIFIED for asking questions why they were used to get the charter ( and they were one of the reasons it was granted)and then never contacted!!! Who does this? Sweet olive dropped this ball (do the ones in charge also not want mcmillian kids around theirs). This raises EXTREME integrity questions.

    Is it possible that the parents burying their heads in the sand are more interested in keeping this school white?

    Will they will settle for Medeocre, as long as the uniforms stay pretty and the kids a certain race, rather than a diverse french school that really educates kids and is truly a picture of the state of Lousisana?

    Don’t you think that is why one of the questioned board members wanted audubon charter to split their campus french side and montesouri side. The documentation is there. If you can’t segregate Audubon, lets find another way. HHHMMM, New school, selected admissions, tuition only kids taking all Kinder spots to keep the unwanted children out. No outreach to Mcmillian after we oust jill Otis, perfect solution ( and lets add a second grade to hurt Audbon too, not what jill signed up for).

    BESE, at least did not allow Lycee this matriculation this year. Is it because the southern Poverty law center said it was against federal law? Lycee tried to do it last year too, but were stopped. Lycee board claimed ignorance, but no ill intent. Do you believe this when they turned around and put up more tiers this year to stack the K program including giving students from other french prk’s first priority!!! thank goodness BESE called them on this too.

    Does lycee like being known in the community as a racist school? I would hope not, but it is out there and out there in a big way. Shame on these board members, ALL of them!!!!

  • tree

    you all are doing GREAT in sharing accurate information! THANK YOU! KEEP IT UP! maybe someone will start a blog with this accurate and factual information which the parents can log onto – unless going the “facebook” route which has allowed the board to control and ERASE the factual information.

    also, insider information: the STRIKE was suggested not by the French staff of the school but by the American. it was the FRENCH staff which declined the STRIKE. THIS IS TRUE! FACTUAL!

    what it means is all the french teachers are saying is this:
    the original charter is being defaced and the school is illegally being altered by some egomaniac, unethical people – a very SMALL group consisting of a few parents and the now-controllable board members! these people have TIME to do this and to censor factual information whereas the REAL majority of the LFNO students’ parents are busy WORKING and cannot keep up with this minority’s efforts. a minority that ALMOST won!

    YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WIN THIS TIME!

  • kally

    We are not all parents of Lycee. I am an Audubon Parent and I am tired of this group trying to harm my school and ruin the reputation of French schools in New Orleans.

  • kally

    Tree,

    No one at audubon was suprised that the decision to hired Giselle either. Friends hiring Friends. We saw it happening before our eyes.

    Maybe if the parents win( and I don’t think these board members will step down easily) the relationship between Lycee and EB and Audubon can be revisited. It is shattered now, due to the actions of this board (three members actually, not two) EB and Audubon have a great relationship and it makes a difference, but that has not always been the case. ( but then again, one of your current board members was part of that too)

  • Nola

    Thanks Wallflower for reminding everyone of the history. I just keep thinking of the Vichy Government. Anyone else see the parallels? Is homogeneous, cute and free really more important than getting the accredited french teachers and the unique curriculum you were promised? Each time this board fails they change the playing field and tell you all is fine (someone else was the problem). Fiscal mis-management, bullying teachers and parents that speak out against the board, no admin staff (except friends of the board)double dipping on pre-k tuition and gifted pre-k funds…breaking the charter agreement…this is not growing pains this is a mess. At some point you have to start looking at the carnage that has followed these board members and determine that where there is smoke there is fire. Fool me once, shame on you. fool me twice, shame on me…fool me 10 times…?

  • Josh Reyher

    Please Wallflower and Tree use your real names.

    Bill Perrault had some constructive things to say on Uptown Messenger regarding leadership. The board backed the previous Academic Director and gave him CEO responsibilities that he requested. Unfortunately the budget shortfall happened under his watch and he bears responsibility. Yes he resigned. Vilified? I don’t think so. I have never heard anything or read anything stating he was evil., earning the status of villain. He is a genuinely nice guy and very smart. Nobody is a villain.

    The new academic director is taking on a big challenge while the CEO search commences. On her First day she stated that finding a permanent first grade teacher to replace the one who quit under the previous academic director’s watch was her top priority. Lycee now has a permanent first grade teacher for the remainder of the academic year. The new teacher is the substitute who had the most time with the students over the past semester. These two issues, correcting the budget and acquiring a first grade teacher, are probably more important at this time that worrying about French Baccalaureate. That test is not administered till the 11th grade. We have time. We probably now need to focus on the DIBEL tests coming up in March.

    I attended the Rebuilding Trust Working Group Meeting. A majority of the people at the meeting asked that this be paused to await the LDOE hiring of a CEO. But a minority voice decided they could not wait. Is there a backlash to this action? I am not surprised. We just went through a turbulent period, let’s work to go forward. A difference in opinion is not a difference in principle.

  • creole 65

    This fiasco all started in the living room of my partners home. I sat off to the side and listened to everything that went on before Lycee was even granted a state charter. From the very beginning, it was obvious that the sole objective of Paige’s involement was to start this school to have a place to send her kids. I finally spoke up and said that I thought this was a charter school for all children and our mutual dislike for one another became obvious from then on.
    I just sat quietly after that , kept my eyes and ears open read all the papers strewn around the living room as I dusted , and asked lots of questions. I guess they thought I didn’t count or I wasn’t as smart as some of them so that’s why I speak up on this blog. The current chair who was a suppossed board member often was not present, when he did come was often late, and not once made a trip before the BESE board concerning the school. The only thing that concerned him was getting his kids on the cover of the schools pamplhet.
    I was also concerned about the talk that current pre-k children would automatically go into the kindergarten glasses. I knew this was against state law, because I had read that the admission to kindergarten had to be city wide access. That question was answered by saying that there would be enough room at the Patton street campus. Somehow there was always an answer for how the illegal things were going to ge handled. When I asked when outreach was going to be done at black nursery or churches or head start programs or advertisement in the paper for kindergarten, I was dismissed and ignored. To answer your question how I know so much ? The only time I could spend with my partner was to go to meetings and such even when I didn’t want too. I recognized these folks for what they were , classless nouveau riche wannabees who think money gives them power. Forgive me for mispelled words . I’m neither smart nor rich .

  • frenchfriend

    First year facts:

    The Lycee claims on their original website that there is a fast track to accreditation and lycee would get this because of their fabulous staff. Notice it is not there anymore.

    Why? because it is a LIE. It was reported by the accredited schools in the area and The French ministry of Ed made them take it down. Not a good start relationship wise with any of the established schools or French ministry of education.

    They were forced to take the stamp of French accreditation that was on their original website and flyer down.

    Why? because only accredited schools have the honor to use it. What a slap in the face to Audubon and EB. It was reported to the French ministry. Again the French ministry of ed forced this group to take it down,another black mmark and another LIE.

    The board always justifies how got their school buildings as fair and legal, but how ethical was it?

    Lets first talk about the Claiborne campus, home to CDP preschool for thirty five years. Did the lycee even inform the CDP preschool that they were moving there and taking this space? I Don’t think so. The Lycee board claims that CDP was a bad tenet and that they can’t help if a landlord wanted a different one ( especially if you promise the landlord the world)But why not imform the preschool you may take their space, but then again, Why go looking in places where children already go to school?

    2nd proposed campuss: Ecole Bilingue Perrier building. How did Ecole bilingue find out that this lycee group were also trying to take over their Perrier campus site ( and they almost did)? When board members of Lycee, who, at the time, had their children at EB and were recruiting from within the school, started telling EB parents that lycee would be just like EB, same uniforms,same teachers, even in the same place!!!!!This location was also announced at the first informational meeting for Lycee as the second site of the school and that the lease would be signed in a week. How does this lycee group justify this? They say EB was leaving the space. Yes EB was trying to combine the programs on one campus, but did lycee call and inquire out of curtesy, what the current French school intended to do with their prime Perrier space? Did they know that EB never intended to leave Perrier and had other plans for its use? Did you know that the French Ministry of ED was informed AGAIN about this and they were not happy at all. French schools are not supposed to be in the business of kicking out other accredited maternelle programs out of its space.( another black mark on Lycee before it opened)

    Lets talk Sabis. It has been said ( but I have not proof)that a big contribution is given to the Catholic church by one of the current board members and Poof, Sabis is out. Sabis was a 99% black “at risk school”. Yes, They were out growing their space, but were they planning on leaving that year? NO. read the nola.com article. Was St Francis offered the world again if they kicked out sabis and recieved a little white french school. The neighborhood would be so happy. The church and its parish would be thrilled. The donation and the upgrades were too much to give up.

    Are these things legal? yes. Are they ethical? NO

    Then came the opening of the second grade against the advice of the french ministry of Education. Jean Jaques had a meeting with the two principals of audubon and EB, the french senator, the french Consul and other politicians and gave his word to them that NO second grade would open.He and jill Otis were not happy about doing this anyway. Less than three weeks later the Board went to BESE and asked for a second grade. How do you think that made JJ look? How do you think that affected an already strained relationship with Audubon and EB. Look what it did to Jill Otis.

    Wake up school!! You are dealing with some ruthless people who don’t really give a damn about right and wrong, only what is right for them ( and it is not just two of them, it is three of them).

  • http://thelens Joyous VB

    This initial comment is for JULIE and JANINE. How can you state that only a minority of parents are unhappy with the school? Have you polled all the parents? 600, you say? How can you possibly know what all parents feel? Can you document that you have personally spoken with at least three hundred parents in making your statement? Never make a blanket statement unless you are willing to have your veracity questioned, and I am calling it into question now. Yes, you have a right to your opinion, so do other parents. You want Lycee Francais to continue, so do they, and so do I. Some parents have chosen to take a stand against tyranny and believe that the school is worth saving. Although I believe that LFNO is too far gone and not worth their trouble, I admire the courage of their convictions given that retribution reigns in the “hallowed halls” of LFNO, replete with fear and intimidation, maybe not for you, the in crowd, but for parents, faculty, and staff who dare to have different views than LFNO board members. I thought we lived in America where collective thinking and free speech prevails.

    Reasonable people should identify the board’s problems, create a plan for resolution, and then act to solve the problems. I believe that is what the “restore trust working group” is trying to accomplish – getting a dialogue going, pointing our problems, and asking for answers. If some parents want to sweep nagging problems under the rug to shore up this beleaguered board, you will be enabling this board to continue down the path of resentment, destruction, and division. The real issue is that the board has made it difficult for reasonable people to come together, and do what reasonable people should do. I have asked myself how? The LFNO board has done a good job of dividing its parent body, turning parents against parents. Some of its board members have characterized some as the “concerned parents”, (oh, we know who you are mantra), and yes, thereby creating a toxic school environment. This is yet another example of the LFNO worst board practices and its unprofessionalism. There are now two parent factions: the “concerned parents” now known as the “restoring trust working group” and the board’s groupies, whom I have labeled the “inner circle parents”. The inner circle parents have continued to insult some parents with impunity in the use of the board’s label for them. Perhaps now since I have dubbed them the inner circle parents, they will begin to understand that their name-calling has resulted in dividing the parent ranks further, and prohibits reasonable people from coming together to problem solve. There are LFNO parents who have yet to take a position on the school’s leadership. I would ask that you analyze the situation, summon up some courage to join the group in which you feel most comfortable, and then actively participate in its plan if your group has a plan. This is not the time to sit idly by. The heart of the school is at stake. It now seems that the LFNO board has prompted a parent war. If you think I am wrong, just consider the comments already made on this site. Shame on them – they are despicable and an insult to other charter school board members in this city.

    It is my impression that the board has hand picked those who are the inner circle parents because they are easy to manipulate. I have watched and listened to these good people at LFNO board meetings when they question an issue. The board chair generally responds with some charming answer, the I know what you want to hear answer with no substance, or the I have to look into that answer, and he never does, and they seem eager to accept his lack of transparency. The restore trust working group is demanding answers to tough questions. Hollow and feed good answers are not sufficient for them nor should they be as this board is responsible to the taxpayers of Louisiana. So I ask inner circle parents, tell me what is wrong with that? You alone are not paying for this school, the people of Louisiana are. You have minute financial ownership here. Please get out of the way of parents and people who do expect accountability for their hard earned dollars that they unwillingly give up to federal, state, local governments, and to your dysfunctional board each paycheck.

    It is hard to understand how people with some common sense can watch as nine LFNO board members step down, two CEOs leave, and four employees are fired, in a span of fifteen months, and characterize it as”growing pains”. Really, John White et al? How about some pragmatism here? All one needs to do is look to the other charter schools in New Orleans, including those in RSD. How many parents have had to suffer this kind of indignity from their boards? None.

    This board has chosen to take its focus off what is best for the LFNO children, instead, choosing to eat its young in order to preserve its wretched existence. If that is what you inner circle parents want and expect, so be it. You deserve each other.

  • Wallflower

    Josh, there is a reason for my not using my real name. It seems that everyone who has stuck their neck out, to say something the board does not approve of, has had their head chopped clean off. I am not a coward, but I am not a sucker either. You can talk, using your real name, because they are not coming after you.

  • secretary bird

    I particularly like the suggestion from Julie that dissatisfied parents start their own school. Doesn’t she know that’s how Lycee got started? Audubon parents, who include your current and former board members, didn’t like the more public aspects of a public school in New Orleans. The months after Katrina, when Audubon was first chartered, were particularly unpleasant.

    Happily for ACS, those parents got their own charter.
    I don’t have a dog in this hunt any more, but unfortunately for well-meaning Lycee families, the school was begun in bad faith and its short history bears that out.

  • Prefer not to say

    Secretary Bird you have it exactly right. Two current board members and one former board member were unhappy that the Audubon board would not agree to their demands to split the school. I actually attended that board meeting. Too bad Jill Otis and Joy Van Burskik had no idea how divisive and unethical these people were. If so, they probably would not have gotten involved with the group. Then again, without their involvement, the school probably would not have gotten off the ground because the board members had no clue about running a school. Too bad for the kids……

  • tree

    i’m so happy because this forum is a free forum and not censored or erased like the administrators did on the LFNO facebook page.

    The new academic director “put in” a first grade teacher who is not a CODOFIL teacher. anyone can hire a teacher – but there are specific certifications that the other teachers have that this new teacher unfortunately does not have.

    correcting the budget? what does that mean? the budget has to, legally, be made public AND itemized! look at the last “public budget – the at the janitor section. see anything odd? if not, look again. call a friend who knows something about budgets!

    here is another problem. some of us are looking at “immediate” concerns (what some people call immediate concerns or immediate needs) whereas this project, a truly visionary idea IF the original charter is honored, requires a future look. it is very important to worry about the French Baccalaureate NOW especially since at least one board member has publicly announced a change in the board’s direction (and, subsequently, a change in the school itself) concerning the importance and/or the goal itself of the french baccalaureate! and there are other things like the preschool fiasco! it is important to have the preschool which will ensure the student’s level of success ESPECIALLY since this school is on ENGLISH-SPEAKING territory (making it more difficult for language immersion).

    THANK YOU ALL for this information and history! i am so happy to learn these facts! i thought there was something fishy and now i’m aware of this. i saw Paige talk like a chihuahua to another parent. i realized then that she had no respect nor was she required to by her “friends”. how gross. i’m glad i’m not these people. who wants relationships like that!

    the LFNO board has done a very good job of dividing the parent body. a few people (not on the board but “friends” of board members) have helped by stirring up the pots of distractions. one solution to combat this is, when asked stupid questions, just keep walking. when a smoke screen is thrown up (like asking me to state my “real” name – as if that’s not my name), walk through it! but, BE AWARE, it is happening. then, the two or three ego-driven board members are just “rolling the dice”, taking their chances at what they can get away with. the state of the world allows this kind of thing to be passed on as authority – fast tracking!

    most of the parents of the students at LFNO are hard working parents just trying to give their babies the best possible life they can. and they are the majority and, i believe, they do not want to lose LFNO.

    meanwhile, a “privileged” minority is doing what they can to make a homogenized, distilled world out of LFNO which they control. the mistake this minority made is making the school public. in making it public, it is NOT their school and as much as they want to believe they have power over the school, that is just an illusion – they are deluding themselves!

    so, in order to save the school we still have, it is important for the parents to sign the grievance letter which will show these people that they are not in charge and that they cannot steal our school!

    i believe that LFNO was born in bad faith. Paige did not like people and people didn’t like her. she has stated this publicly. she said the folk at ACS told her to “go start your own school”. i believe what is said about the payoffs and the this and that. it has happened EVERYWHERE in the united states south. this kind of thing is not NEWS.

    HOWEVER, here we are! and i want to thank Paige for her hard work in getting us here. and now it is time for her to step away. her plan is folding before her eyes. she and her friends are losing the game. and i see a wonderful future for LFNO, a future that will repair the damaged relationships, a future that will step into the year 2013 when we have learned! and we no longer want to commit the same crimes and injustices! a future that allows kids (of all backgrounds) the wonderful opportunity of cultural diversity and enrichment, and a safe, chaos-free, school where they are shown respect and receive a TOP education.

    i can see this vision! it’s very clear now! the parents can make this happen for their kids!

  • frenchfriend

    Tree,
    She tried to destroy EB before Audubon and now her mission is to destroy both) EB was happy to see her go. Tensions between these two schools started after that. Those problems, thank goodness, have been resolved. I think she wanted Audubon to be like EB, but they are different, so she has tried to create a free EB ( although EB is far more diverse than Lycee) Many of her inner circle would like that too, a pretty, free EB, but what they don’t understand is that the little jewel EB does not want to ever look like Lycee. We value diversity and our so many other strengths. No school is perfect, but a school started with the intent to destroy others is bound to reap what they sow

  • kally

    Good Luck tree.

  • http://thelens Joyous VB

    James – in regard to your question about teacher involvement in the CEO selection process, it is necessary for the teachers to be involved in the hiring of that individual. Common sense would dictate two things: (1) there are no educators on the LFNO Board – the teachers represent the missing educators; know how to interview and what to ask (it is clear that board is woefully lacking in that ability; (2) the teachers must feel confident about the qualifications and experience of the individual who is hire. Why? if the CEO cannot inspire teacher and staff confidence to lead, the school will falter as it is doing now. To those of you who have expressed that this is not necessary in your line of business, I want to remind you that children are not produced from the same mold, have varying degrees of experiences, and are not predictable, as the tires on your car. Your opinions only underscore why it is important to have educators running a school, sitting on boards, etc. You know nothing about the business of educating children. I dare say that you would not last one day in the classroom, and would probably have to be carried out at the end of the day. I defy you business experts to sub one full day in the classroom. You will sing a different tune then.

  • Prefer not to say

    Joy,

    Remind them that even under the old Orleans Parish School Board system, there was a teacher and parent representative on interview committees. This is not unusual – educators should be a part of interview committees.

  • tree

    What I believe now is here we are. And I want to thank all the peeople who made this difficult and who tried to destroy it because you have made this school, this vision, stronger. Now it is time for work! This can be a great school. I want to thank you “connected” people for all you have provided. Please come to the board meeting tonight at 6:30. We begin!

  • Watchdoggie

    Just a heads up..two new special education teachers were hired. Someone needs to check their credentials. I looked them up at the following link uphttps://www.teachlouisiana.net/teachers.aspx?PageID=416

    Here it says that each have “mild to moderate” certification. It does not list “gifted and talented” in short this means that none of the gifted services will be reimbursable. That is 8k+ per pre-k gifted child and additional funding on top of MFP for K-2 kids. I’m sure you all have their names. Do a search and see for yourselves.

  • http://thelens Joyous VB

    Dear Prefer Not To Say,
    I did not mention OPSB requirements because some parents believe and treat this school as a private/public school. I have heard comments made that charter schools are so much better because teachers do not have any rights. Actually that is factual – they do not have professional rights. The problem with that mentality is that after a while teachers tire of being treated unprofessionally, and generally leave charter school positions if they find a more professional environment. Why do you think that most bright talented people never think of entering education? They want to be in a profession in which they have some control over their destiny. Education has never provided that.

  • Disillusioned

    Josh:

    Considering your closeness to Paige, maybe you should recuse yourself from any more comments. You’re drinking the Kool-aid. Or should I say that nasty coffee from the dump on Maple?

  • tree

    parents!

    i feel that i must act now or we will lose the school. please read! please act!

    the teachers are decidedly NOT returning next year if nothing changes.

    first of all, let me assure you that this whole “mess” and the teachers’ “anger” is NOT because of those odd french people wanting more days off for vacation. we are talking about REAL people, here, NOT trinkets used in a marketing ploy to sell a “product”. the teachers are high class, top quality, workers of the state of france. THIS MEANS SOMETHING! it’s HUGE. and these highly qualified teachers are here! and available to our american children – american children in the south! – IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL CAPACITY! if we lose this, we lose big!

    some of the children at LFNO (maybe yours), due to their financial status, are not in danger of losing a once in a lifetime opportunity! so, here i am appealing to your ethics and to your humanity. there are children who, for the first time in their lives, have the opportunity to have quality environment and quality instruction in, in time, quality lives – different – all because of their schooling, their beginning! lives could be altered completely with this school! diversity, culture, relationships formed out of random meetings in life – les rencontres – make life expansive, beautiful! not small, homogenized, stale, isolated.

    all of this would be lost if LFNO were a private school and all will be lost if LFNO fails.

    i do not know or care to know the politics of uptown new orleans. i’m not interested in it now or ever. what i know is what is deep in my soul – that EVERY child should have an opportunity to live well and to experience the most expansive life possible. and the reality of the world is that this often does not happen. but, with LFNO, we have the chance to change how things have always been! in this small way, we can provide LFNO students with a totally new life experience.

    i do not care if LFNO was “started” by one person’s efforts – her not liking others and others not liking her! LFNO never belonged TO her. and now it is evident that she cannot even see the truly visionary concept of this school – to offer to children of the american south, at the public level, an authentic french curriculum, using the charter school model (from the charter school explosion after Katrina), taught by highly qualified, professionals! this is truly visionary. and it can be the foundation of something amazing for the future.

    this can only happen now, however, IF certain people are removed (because of their constant destructive, disrespectful, unjustified behavior) from the board and administration so that the initial charter can have the freedom to unfold. otherwise, this vision is doomed.

    i have watched these teachers with a critical eye and i can tell you they are 100% pure class! they do the most precise and accurate job i’ve EVER seen AND they forget not the child’s soul – they ask questions like, “what do you think your big brother would say about that?” (remembering that the child has a brother) or, “how is your baby sister?” or, “ask your daddy because he worked there”. they are involved in the kids’ lives on a human level. they worry that YOUR children do not have a clean carpet to sit on and they get angry when the janitors (friends of friends who are paid with LFNO budget) do not clean the carpets. they do not complain about this because it is fashionable to complain but because they REALLY think about these details, they really believe the child has a RIGHT to put his/her face on a clean carpet during nap time or rest time and they will take the extra measures to make sure the carpets are clean! what american public school is like that? these teachers are talking about LIFE! they are not just forcing children to hurry up and WRITE!

    the fact, dear parents, is that, as of now, LFNO will fail.

    if things stay the same, none of the teachers are returning next year. a board member has stated publicly that she does not need or necessarily want CODOFIL teachers (we are talking about quality and capability here! CODOFIL provided the current teachers – who is your child’s teacher?) what this board member, therefore, proposes to do is get teachers from “somewhere else”. this is the equivalent of a business saying, “this is organic milk” and selling you, the consumer, non-organic milk. we are talking about ethics here.

    the board fired key players whose responsibilities were VITAL to the functioning of the school! AND then hired Giselle. they said the teachers “highly recommend” Giselle. this is FALSE. the teachers DO NOT recommend Giselle for the job. Giselle is not a certified teacher in France or in Louisiana; she has no experience as a director.
    the board “put her” in the position. and now the board is paying her with LFNO budget – a budget that consists of private funding – maybe your money – and public funds – definitely your money! and the money of other taxpayers!

    please forward this email!

    some parents have already started a grievance process (this is legal) because they really want to stop the destruction of this school.

    this letter is one last attempt to inform you of what needs to happen in order to have LFNO (under the original charter) blossom!

    i respect the fact that you are all busy but you can do a few simple things that will have very positive effect. Please do these simple things to STOP what they are doing to LFNO!

    a board meeting is tonight at 6:30pm on patton campus. i hope you’ll be there.

    let’s get those kids their school!

  • kally
  • Prefer not to say

    Joyous,
    I am more optimistic about the future of education. I am a strong supporter of charter schools. I also have seen in my tours of open houses this year at Hynes, Lusher, Lake Forest and Audubon a very good mix of experienced teachers and younger teachers. Based on the school report cards, it looks like they have quality teachers at these schools. I know most of them have testing, but you can have very bright students and if you don’t have great leadership and outstanding teachers, you will not have success. Again, I am far more optimistic about the future of education. It is such a shame that this board has made a horrible impression in the community for charter schools as well as immersion schools.

  • Prefer not to say

    Joyous,

    I also meant that I am optimistic about attracting young, bright and energetic teachers to Charter Schools.

  • Josh Reyher

    At last night’s board meeting, everybody acted in a constructive and polite manner. More than I see from people hiding behind masks in this forum. I keep seeing retribution being thrown around. Disagreement is a natural process for improving a system.

    Good discussion last night regarding “charter”. Good discussion on school renewal.

    Disillusioned; why should your voice be the only one heard? I will not sit quietly. This rancor serves only to malign the school and scare future families away.

    I am always willing to talk in person please let me know when and where you would like to meet. It doesn’t have to be Satsuma. jsreyher@yahoo.com