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Lycée charter committee recommends San Francisco’s Mireille Rabaté for next CEO

A San Francisco school administrator could soon be the next leader at embattled Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school.

The committee charged with finding a new CEO for the school voted Thursday morning to recommended the 340-student French curriculum school hire Mireille Rabaté, an assistant head and middle school principal from the French American International School since 2009.

A second finalist, Lysianne Essama, withdrew her application Wednesday.

Rabaté flew in Wednesday to interview in person with the charter school’s search committee. After Rabaté met for two hours Thursday behind closed doors with members of the committee, Carol Asher motioned that the three-person committee make a formal recommendation that Lycee’s full board hire her.

“I wholeheartedly second the motion,” member Kelly McClure said.

Asher addressed the two parents in the room. “She is a supreme educator and leader,” she said.

A dual citizen of the U.S. and France, Rabaté has worked in both public and private schools, according to her application. After spending about 11 years teaching in France, Norway and in the U.S., she moved into administration, where she has spent the last 18 years.

Rabaté understands Lycée’s needs moving forward, Asher said. “I can tell you that she is the cream of the crop. There’s no doubt.”

Nicole Boudreaux, who joined the meeting by phone, and McClure both affirmed Asher’s raving review.

McClure said Rabaté has a strong vision for involving teachers and parents at the school, which she said would be essential for Lycée.

When a parent asked if the committee had any doubts about Rabaté’s candidacy, Asher said, “I don’t have a doubt in the world.”

McClure said she wouldn’t hold Rabaté back just because there weren’t other finalists being interviewed.

“My only doubt I have is she might not decide to take the job,” said Boudreaux.

The members expressed some concern over the remainder of Rabaté’s essentially all-day interview.

“My concern is what kind of exposure she has today,” said McClure, “I’m concerned that things are very frenetic and understandably so.”

In just its second year, the start-up charter school has endured the resignation of two CEOs, an unexpected budget shortfall this fall and the controversial firing of several staff members. Management consultant Jeremy Hunnewell was brought in at the behest of state Superintendent John White to help address leadership and governance concerns there. Hunnewell recommended hiring a new CEO and installing new board members, spurring the formation of the third-party CEO search committee.

Rabaté’s day is stacked with meetings. After Thursday morning’s interview she left the building with member Kelly McClure to tour Lycée with interim CEO Gisele Schexnider.

Rabaté was then scheduled to have lunch with board members Paige Saleun, Ben Castoriano and Elizabeth Rhodes. After lunch Rabaté was expected to go before the board of directors for a 2 p.m. closed door interview.

She’ll have a break before attending tonight’s town-hall style meeting at 7 p.m. when the community and parents will have the opportunity to question her.

“We now have to sell her on this school,” Asher said.

Lee Reid, an attorney for the school, said that the board would have to decide on Monday if it wants to offer Rabaté the job.

McClure said the committee would accept applications through May 13. If they get another “stellar” application in the next few days, she said, the committee could consider reconvening.

“Anything is possible,” McClure said after the meeting.

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