Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans paid former school chief Jean-Jacques Grandière $10,385 in salary for several weeks after he resigned from the public school last year, records show.
The payments were made without public board discussion or vote.
According to documents, Grandière emailed a three-sentence resignation letter to the board’s president and vice president on Nov. 21, stating he had decided to resign “for personal reasons.”
Two days later—his last day of work, according to Lycée’s “exiting employee checklist”—he and board President Jean Montes signed a nondisclosure agreement in which Grandière agreed not to “denigrate, divulge, furnish, make accessible … or sell” any confidential information involving the school for one year.
The details of Grandière’s post-resignation pay come two months after Lycée’s board received an audit citing the school for paying almost $30,000 to founding principal Jill Otis after she resigned, without the proper board authorization. That audit covered the period ending June 30.
Montes suggested last month that “a different decision likely should have been made” in that case. In the same media statement, school officials said Lycée would not seek reimbursement for the unauthorized use of public funds.
Yet, when explaining the school’s arrangement to pay Grandière over the course of six weeks following his resignation, Montes called the pay “fair.”
“Mr. Grandière was available and assisted with the transition after his departure, including offering advice and co-signing checks until a new signatory could be processed by the bank, providing services that were necessary for the school during that period,” the press release said.
The Lens tried to reach Grandière by phone to ask him how much work he did between Nov. 23 and Jan. 1, the last day for which he was paid, but the number had been disconnected.
Ten days after Grandière resigned, Montes announced that he had hired an interim replacement. On Dec. 10, the first board meeting after Grandière’s resignation, the board voted to “ratify” the decision to hire interim CEO Gisele Schexnider.
Lycée paid Grandière through Jan. 1, records show, just days after an auditor issued the report with the finding about Otis’ pay. Montes said in January that Grandière was also paid for two weeks of vacation, though The Lens was unable to determine that from the payroll records.
The school made available records involving Grandière’s pay following a series of public records requests filed by The Lens.
The Lens initially requested documents related to both Grandière and Otis’ severance pay, termination paperwork, nondisclosure agreements, and resignation letters on Jan. 25. An attorney for Adams and Reese, which is representing Lycée, responded on Jan. 30 without providing any documents.
Attorney Jaimme Collins stated there was no severance paperwork or nondisclosure agreement for Grandière or Otis. The law firm also claimed that termination paperwork was exempt from public records laws because it was part of the former CEOs’ personnel files.
However, the school’s Jan. 30 press release appeared to contradict Collins’ response when it revealed that Grandière had been paid for six weeks following his resignation. The Lens submitted another public records request.
This time, The Lens received a nondisclosure agreement, an exiting employee checklist and payroll records showing that Grandière was paid $10,385 in salary after he resigned.
Montes did not return an email from The Lens asking how the decision to pay Grandière had been made and by whom.
In a Feb. 5 e-mail, Montes told The Lens that Grandière never received a severance package, “at least as I understand the term with explanation from our legal counsel, which is pay and benefits an employee receives after he leaves employment.
“Here, Mr. Grandiere did not leave employment at the time of his resignation, as he continued to be available and assist with the transition for some time even though he stepped down from his role as General Director.”