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Lycee board regroups following CEO candidate rejection, appoints new member to head search

One week after a CEO candidate rejected a job offer to oversee Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school, the school’s governing board on Tuesday charged a newly appointed member with leading its search.

Erin Greenwald will take the reigns of the committee that recommended the board hire San Francisco school administrator Mireille Rabaté over New Orleans’ struggling French curriculum charter school.

Rabaté rejected the board’s offer, calling it one of the most difficult decisions she’s ever made.

Greenwald’s addition will bring the size of the CEO search committee to four people.

In a 13-minute meeting Tuesday night the board of the 340-student school also agreed that it needs a new plan that addresses “both short and long term needs”  — a phrase that was often repeated without a clear explanation as to what the “next steps” or the “needs” might entail.

Board chairman Jean Montes welcomed the 25 parents and teachers sitting at lunch tables in the school’s cafeteria.

“We’re going to basically be focusing on reviewing the status of the committee’s work and moving forward with next steps in this process,” said Montes.

He then turned the microphone over to attorney Lee Reid, who briefly explained this would be a time for the board to reflect on the CEO search process, make any changes it deemed necessary and move forward.

“We turn to the board at this point for discussion on next steps for the CEO search committee,” said Reid, ceding the floor to Montes.

Montes called for board comments and member Alysson Mills was the first to speak up.

“I’d like to make a motion, but I’d like to preface it with a few remarks,” said Mills.

“I thought about this a lot over the last week,” said Mills of Rabaté’s decision. “As has every member of this community.”

Mills proposed that a board member compile and present to the board a written document identifying short and long term needs and steps to reach those needs. Mills called for the member to speak with both the search committee members and management consultant Jeremy Hunnewell.

Then Mills asked that Greenwald do just that, and in the next seven to 10 days.

“We’re not going to find a solution tonight but we all acknowledge that we have to act very swiftly,” said Mills.

No other board members offered comment and the floor was opened for public comment.

Parents echoed Mill’s sentiment as the board took public comment.

“I think the time for action is now,” said Amy George Hirons, parent of a Lycee student.

One parent requested member Elizabeth Rhodes or Mills take the lead rather than Greenwald, noting each have previous charter school board experience

“This is certainly not going to be a committee of one,” Greenwald said, “This is simply to put me in a position to act as chair of the committee.”

“I am aware of the skill sets that currently exist on the board and will use those skills as needed,” Greenwald said.

The board approved the motion 7-0. Greenwald will join the existing CEO search committee with the ability to tap other board members as she sees fit.

Asked to clarify the plan she intended to put forward to the board Greenwald only said that it would address both short and long term needs of the school.

When member Catherine MacPhaille called role at the beginning of the meeting there was a notable omission: Dan Henderson. After the meeting MacPhaille said Henderson resigned prior to Tuesday’s meeting via email.

Henderson’s resignation opens up one spot on the board, which will likely be filled by Tessa Jackson or Ann Meese. Both of whom were approved by the board earlier this month, but not immediately seated due to space limitations.

Attorney Lee Reid said management consultant Jeremy Hunnewell, who has assisted the school in its search for a new chief, is completing an “exit interview type process” with Rabaté.

Members Rhodes, MacPhaille, Mills, Greenwald, Ben Castoriano, Jean Montes, and Courtney Garrett were present. Member Tim Gray listened by telephone and members Jacqueline Simon and Paige Saleun were absent.

Caroline Roemer Shirley, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, and Raphael Gang from the state department of education were present for the meeting as well.

The board is not scheduled to meet until June 10, though they may call a special meeting to consider Greenwald’s plan prior to that date.

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