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Voteless Lycee board meeting learns of Fete results and plans for expanding kindergarten

Monday’s scheduled monthly meeting of the board of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans could not be a regular session with votes taken because the agenda had not been issued 24 hours in advance, as required by state open-meetings law.

Board chairman Tim Gray offered that explanation to parents, staff and members of the general public who showed up, expecting action. The board could discuss agenda items but but not act on them, Gray said. Public comment would not be possible, he added, because school policy limits comment to items up for a vote — a decision Gray modified later in the meeting.

The school’s annual Fête de la Musique fundraiser in March grossed $67,365, offset by expenses of $26,000 for a net just above $41,000, the school’s principal and chief executive Keith Bartlett reported. This was shy of last year’s $48,377 take, but well in excess of the $35,000 budgeted.

The school will seek to add a sixth section of kindergarten next year and will strive to fill the 20 extra seats with at-risk students, Bartlett said. In a related update, he said the school was delaying the decision to become its own food provider until the total at-risk enrollment was above 51 percent.

Bartlett said the school is reserving a classroom in the Cabildo, the historic Jackson Square building run by the Louisiana State Museum. He said it would facilitate study of the history, culture, and architecture of the French Quarter, as well as the area’s French roots.

Bartlett introduced the board to Sarah Stickney, the school’s new director of development. Joanna Sese, currently in France, will serve as director of admissions, he said.

Bartlett went on to provide details of the hiring process. The four top candidates for each position were interviewed and chosen with input from board member Lisa Tropez-Arceneaux and the school’s academic and finance directors, he said.

Gray announced that several parents had requested the applications of candidates for the positions. State law requires that applications for school positions defined as “policy-making” must be made public, Gray said, adding that he had written Louisiana’s attorney general asking for guidance on the issue.

Gray said that if release of the applications was discretionary, he would oppose making the applications public because of the chilling effect it could have on future applicants. Many applicants would not want their current employers to know they were shopping for a new job, he said.

Member Erin Greenwald described a hypothetical scenario in which members of the public request every job application, and local online websites, such as the Uptown Messenger and The Lens, publish the names.

Gray decided to allow public comment on the board’s motion to adjourn, and parent Charles Varley used the opportunity to object to the board’s public comment policy.

“Just because the board’s taken a decision, it’s not particularly inclusive of the parents … that you do not allow comments,” Varley said.

Greenwald responded that there were other ways to provide input besides board meetings.

“We are a board that is trying very much not to meddle in things that do not concern us,” she said.

Varley responded that parents wanted to weigh in when the board set policy. “This is when there’s an immediate ability to reply to that,” he said. “We’re discussing it now.”

The board decided to hold a second April meeting next Monday at 6:30 p.m. to vote on the agenda items that could not be resolved due to the failure to publish the agenda on time. Prominent on next Monday’s agenda is a five-year personnel plan that calls for two additional interventionists, a custodian, and an information-technology staffer. Some of the positions will be part-time or shared between facilities.

Board members Lisa Tropez-Arceneaux, Ann Meese, Alysson Mills, Courtney Garrett, and Michael Williams were also present. Ben Castoriano and Mary Jacobs Jones were absent.

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  • Ailuri

    The first step to getting a total at-risk enrollment above 51% would be to actually include all of the at-risk kids who turn in their applications and financial data on time in the lottery/OneApp placement process.

    Leaving some kids out of the lottery isn’t fair, transparent, or legal.

    Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any recourse for children who got left out (and neither “oops, we don’t have any idea why your kid was removed from the system AFTER we confirmed via email that we got the application” nor “we’re looking into what happened” is any consolation and giving parents the runaround doesn’t fix the problem.)

    EVERY child who turned in a valid, completed application and financial data for at-risk status should have been included in the OneApp lottery for available seats at LFNO.

  • frenchfriend

    I hope you have proof of this and report this ASAP. This is a lawsuit waiting to happen, especially if you have the emails. This sounds terribly illegal. Many been trying to expose these antics for two years.

  • nickelndime

    PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL LOTTERIES: Um-m-m-m…Report it (the antics) to whom? A little lady awhile back was asking where to report a child being left out of the lottery process, as in “There is no record of…” Surely this is not the only instance (BESE, RSD, OPSB) where this is occurring. And the day that Lycee has a total at-risk enrollment of 51% (!), well, that will the day when this entire board disappears and has been replaced by a more equitable and just one. At-risk enrollment is not going to grow under the guidance of this Lycee group, nor under the direction of its CEO, COO, CAO, CFO, or any other “C-alphabet person” they can think of to bloat this administrative budget.

  • Ailuri

    Anyone happen to know if they are required to leave time for general public comments/questions at the end of their board meetings? Or do they only allow comments on specific agenda items? (I know they have to leave room for questions/comments before a vote- I need to know if people can come and ask a question that isn’t involved with a specific vote on that specific day.)

  • NolaGal

    The comments came before the board voted to adjourn the meeting – there is no “comment period” at the end of the meeting. There are no specific laws regarding comment policies at charter school board meetings, except that comments must be allowed before a vote is taken.

  • Ailuri

    Thanks for the response. That makes things much more clear :)

  • Ailuri

    That does appear to be the big question- “Report it to whom?”
    Attempting to go the calm, non-lawyer-involvement route doesn’t seem to accomplish much… and figuring out the administrative chain of command to even try to do so is exceedingly frustrating.

  • nickelndime

    PUBLIC COMMENT AT PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL MEETINGS: All I have to say at this point is, is that the more ignorant (loud and agressive) you are, the more these boards (local, charter, State) pay attention. You just have to figure out if you are legally correct. If you are legally correct, that really scares them (because they know they are doing wrong and you caught it)! You can see it in how they react. They are dirty and they are all guilty. They become subdued and controlled – until they can get to that over-priced legal counsel – if he is not already there (Ha!).

  • Ailuri

    I’m fairly certain that this part of Louisiana charter school law means that it’s not legal to exclude a child who turned in all application materials on time from the lottery/selection process:

    “If the total number of eligible applicants exceeds the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school, admission to the program, class, grade level, or school shall be based on an admissions lottery conducted from among the total number of eligible applicants done in such a fashion as to assure compliance with Paragraph B(1) of this Section.”

    I’m not especially eager to go the legal route, but I’ll be chatting with my cousin (who happens to be a lawyer downtown- lucky for me!) soon to see what my options are if no one gets back to me (Seriously- I’ve already emailed and called/left voicemails a bunch of times- total silence in response).
    I really, really, really want them (Lycee and OneApp) to just make things right on their own and respond to me in a timely manner…but I feel like nobody but me thinks that’s very important.

  • sstickney

    Hi Ailuri!

    I’m so sorry that you have had trouble getting an answer to your question. Can you email me directly at sstickney@lfno.org? We are in the process of transitioning in a new Admissions Coordinator, but I will make sure that we can get you an answer about your child’s status in the next 24 hours.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Sarah Stickney
    Director of Development, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans

  • AmyGeorge

    Ailuri–even if the Board does not take comment (per the comments policy that they passed this year they only need to take comment on items being voted on), you would still get the opportunity to address your concern to a Board member after the meeting. Also, if your comment is particular to an Admissions issue, you could try coming to the Academics and Recruitment meeting. Dr. Meese, who chairs that committee, makes a point to leave time at the end for comments for the public. The next A&R meeting is Tuesday, April 29th at 6:00PM at the Patton st campus. The agenda will be posted on the school’s website. I hope that your concern gets addressed soon.

  • nickelndime

    LYCEE, ADMISSIONS, LOTTERIES: Hey Ailuri! You struck a nerve, Girl. You got ahold of
    Sarah Stickney, Director of Development, Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans’ ATTENTION! You got “ignorant,” Girl, but in a cultured way (you know that you are legally correct and they are legally wrong), which brings us to another matter. Lycee is not on the “up-and-up.” It’s not fair, just, or equitable. And don’t think that the Downtown cousin lawyer connection didn’t cause a stir. Because it did. But here’s the problem. I’m like Woody Allen in “Annie Hall” – If even one person is suffering, I can’t enjoy it! What about the others who don’t have access to relatives who are lawyers, or are not so savvy on the internet, or don’t blog, twitter.., or don’t know how to lodge a legitimate complaint? What happens to their children? Do they end up in the Type 5 RSD charter washouts and takeovers? Do you see the dilemma? Shame on the State (BESE, the John Whites and the Patrick Dobards, the Jindals and the LDOE!!!)

  • LyceeMom

    Do you even have any idea how ridiculous you sound? I mean you no ill will, but its the same shenanigans with you over and over again. Post after post. Please, if you are that unhappy with Lycee, go somewhere else. If I complained as much as you did about lycée & it’s administration & it’s shortcomings, I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. Sure, we all have thought at some point or another that things needed to change, but they HAVE! It is beyond me why you can’t just take a break and stop all the negativity. At this point, you are beginning to sound like a bitter person who doesn’t have anything better to do but complain about things that they don’t see fit. If you want to make changes, please involve yourself in the school! There are so many volunteer activities for you to become involved in…join a committee…the PTO…anything! Take some of this negative energy and turn it into something positive and beneficial. Airing what you assume to be fact on a public opinion column seems a little absurd. Please, come out of the shadows and help the school succeed, which is what is the ultimate goal for everyone! Isn’t it?

  • AmyGeorge

    LyceeMom: If you click on Nickelndime’s profile, you will see that this person writes this way about all kinds of things. Our school is not his/her sole focus. We are making good progress and I’m confident that we will keep doing so. Peace.

  • nickelndime

    LYCEE: Yeah, AmyGeorge, you got it right. I write this way about all kinds of stuff, not just LyceeMom’s kid’s school! However, it does appear that LyceeMom would have to be reading a variety of articles to understand the point which AmyGeorge has so aptly made. You go, AmyGeorge! Peace, Girl! And, nobody is forced to read anybody’s posts, including mine, and I have only been kicked out a couple of times by Steve M., so we all know the site is being monitored (Ha!). Besides, it doesn’t cost anything to read and/or comment, which I might say is a helluva lot cheaper than the millions of dollars that is running through the public education sieve for expensive legal counsel, and what I refer to as the C-alphabet people (CEO, COO, CAO, CFO…) in these charter schools. And, I have not even begun with the D-alphabet people, as in Director of Development!

  • AmyGeorge

    And the wheels keep on spinning…

  • Ailuri

    Thank you- I have someone in the administration and someone at OneApp now investigating what happened.
    I’m not sure why it is taking so long…

  • Ailuri

    I do agree that it’s a concern for others as well- I don’t know if anyone else was affected by this circumstances (error? glitch? whatever?)
    Frankly, I don’t even know if the problem occurred on LFNO’s end or OneApp’s end…and I’m caring less and less who is at fault.
    The lottery wasn’t legal- whether one kid was affected or a thousand kids were affected. Whoever’s fault it was.

    I can only think of one solution to that- redo the lottery (for whatever schools and grades were affected- and if that’s unclear, then for any and all that were potentially affected).

    That’s what I really want -a fair, legal lottery…which is what was legislated and what was promised.
    I want my child to have the chance he deserves…for EVERY child to have the chance they deserve.
    A fair and transparent lottery.
    I don’t actually think that is too much to ask.

    I’m also aware that the timeline grows short for me to even try to get that to happen.

  • Ailuri

    Thank you for this info… I hope this is resolved before then, but it is good to know that this meeting is occurring and that there is a forum for public comment to be heard.

  • nickelndime

    LYCEE: That’s right, AmyGeorge. The wheels keep on spinning, except when an individual shuts down or shuts up and accepts what goes on behind closed doors (so it will pass public muster). As Ailuri’s frustration mounts (I mean somebody ought to do a reality tv series on charter school moms and the admissions process, lotteries and all), I too would hope that the mistakes (glitches, missteps, whatever) are corrected. However, I also think that if Ailuri had not gone public, as in posting on THE LENS, she would have remained in the silence of ignored emails and ignored VM, and the Director of Development would not have reached out to her. Is/was the LFNO lottery conducted in a fair, transparent, and legally correct manner? If the answer starts with, “That depends…” then it isn’t and it wasn’t.