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Interim head granted raise as IHS directors continue search for Amato’s replacement

At their Jan.23 meeting, the board that oversees International High School of New Orleans signed off on a raise for the charter’s interim head of school and took steps to streamline the search for the school’s next leader.

Voices for International Business and Education (VIBE) agreed to $10,000 raise for Nan Ryan, the former assistant head of school who has been in charge since the death of Anthony Amato in December.

“Her job has obviously grown since she was first hired,” said Robert Couhig III, the board’s president.

A VIBE search committee, in place before Amato’s passing, continues to seek his successor. In November, the search committee hired Boston-based education consultants Carney, Sandoe and Associates. The consultants have sent questionnaires to 45 prospects and will narrow the list to 25.

At that point, the board’s search committee will undertake an intensive week of interviews to reduce the number to five finalists. Search committee chairman Ed Graf said the consultants recommended that a smaller group — not the full committee — conduct the interviews.

Couhig said the reworked search committee would likely include Graf, about three other board members and a member of the school’s parent-teacher organization. Board members were given until Jan. 31 to let Graf know if they were interested.

In other business, Ryan reported on several changes she has implemented.

One was to nix paid parking in the school’s rear lot. Ryan said she wants to turn the area into green space for student use.

She also has started a weekly meeting for administrators to address planning and other issues. In addition, she said she has formed faculty committees to look at finances, academics and cultural issues for the coming school year.

Finance committee chair Harry Blumenthal reported that the school’s independent audit for the 2012-13 school year came back clean, with no trouble spots identified. The audit is available on the school’s website.

“It’s quite a compliment to our financial department, which (Ryan) had a lot to do with,” Blumenthal said.

Later in the meeting, Ryan addressed a report from the Louisiana Department of Education that flagged International High School for testing irregularities in the 2012-13 school year. According to the report, two Graduate Exit Exams in English were voided at the school over plagiarism concerns.

Ryan said the two students took the test again. One student passed, one did not.

During the academic committee report, Graf said two students were expelled from the school for marijuana possession. The students will have an opportunity to return to the school in a year, Graf said.

The board entered an executive session to discuss security plans in the wake of a pair of bomb threats the school received on Jan. 16 and 17. The state Open Meetings Law allows boards to enter executive session to discuss the “report, development, or course of action regarding security personnel, plans, or devices.” Couhig said the focus of the discussion would be what was learned from the incidents.

Both threats occurred in the morning and parents were notified. Police searched the building and deemed it safe. According to coverage by NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, during the search students were relocated to the Morial Convention Center, Lafayette Square and a grocery parking lot across from the school. Police later arrested a 15-year-old girl in connection with the threats.

Couhig was joined by other board members and Jason Higgenbotham, president of the parent-teacher organization, in praising Ryan and other administrators for how they handled the incidents.

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