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Amid charges of ‘slander,’ Lycee community debates access to job applications

The board of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans gathered April 21 for their second meeting in less than a month after agendas for the previously scheduled meeting were sent out too late to allow for legally binding votes.

With votes now scheduled, the public was entitled to comment, and parents took the opportunity to voice their opinions on a number of issues. Prominent among them was whether the public should have access to job applications received for two administrative openings recently advertised: coordinator of admissions and director of development.* The consensus view seemed to be that the board was right to ask the state attorney general’s office for guidance and to keep the applications private if given the choice.

State law requires the board to make job applications public if they are for positions of authority or policy-making, raising the question of whether the development and admissions positions are making or implementing policy. The attorney general advised the board that they needed to pass a motion before seeking his advice in writing, which they did.

Parent Shawn McKee said that the letter the school sent to the attorney general called the positions “coordinators,” but that they are listed as “directors.” (The school’s staff list, however, calls one a director and the other a coordinator.) He defended the two contractors who held the jobs previously, saying they had “worked diligently, worked with great spirit” and in support of the school’s best interests.

Parent Josh Rehyer echoed McKee, contending that the ousted contractors had been slandered by anonymous commenters in online publications such as The Lens and Uptown Messenger.

“I think it influenced the decision [not to hire the contractors],” Reyher said. “They were slandered.”

“Last year, there was a group of parents who tried to destroy the school,” McKee said.

Board member Erin Greenwald said everyone understood that the two contractors had been slandered, then withdrew the word “slander” at the request of member Michael Williams, who reminded those present that the term has a specific legal meaning.

Asked later about examples of slander or libel printed in the named publications, Greenwald said she and others were referring to anonymous comments on the news sites, not to the content of news articles.

The board discussed a potential policy change that would bring major hiring decisions before the board for review. Chair Tim Gray explained that Keith Bartlett, the school’s chief executive officer, had requested the oversight himself.

“We are in our infancy. It’s not about who’s sitting here tonight, but who’s sitting in the CEO’s chair down the line,” Bartlett told the board.

Other members disagreed that the additional oversight was a good idea, saying they trust the school’s leader to make hiring decisions. Member Mary Jacobs Jones stressed that, in a competitive hiring market, requiring the lead administrator to confer with the board before making a hiring decision could waste valuable time. Several members agreed that Bartlett should include hiring decisions in his monthly report, rather than seek prior approval from the board.

Gray withdrew the motion, saying he thought it was a healthy sign for the board to disagree and vote down a motion rather than embrace every proposal.

The organization passed the new five-year personnel plan discussed at the previous April meeting.

Several parents chimed in to request that the school engage a full-time nurse, a position that could be paid for by combining the info-tech and librarian positions.

Board members Lisa Tropez Arceneaux, Ann Meese, Alysson Mills, and Ben Castoriano were also present. Courtney Garrett was absent.

*Correction: This story originally said that one of the positions was director of admissions, but it’s coordinator of admissions. (May 1, 2014)

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  • Budd

    >“Last year, there was a group of parents who tried to destroy the school,” McKee said.

    Yes and thankfully some of them are no longer in positions of leadership at this school and it is likely that cooler heads will prevail.

  • nickelndime

    LYCEE: Well, Budd has garnered 20 Guest Votes. That’s great. Moving on, past the “C”-alphabet people, CEO, COO, CFO, CAO… [of which there are way too many, i.e., are extraneous and shouldn't be on the public payroll anyway, but when you have a lot of (public) money to expend, the sky is the limit---I guess], I was just getting into the “D”-alphabet people, as in Directors, when it appears that some “D”- alphabet people have been referred to as “C”-alphabet people (i.e., “contractors”/”coordinators”) and/or “ousted contractors,” which has thrown a complete wrench into the alpha system. And all of this is based on anonymous comments in THE LENS and THE UPTOWN MESSENGER!! BTW, “slander” is uttered/spoken, is it not? So what anonymous commenter(s) slandered these two “directors” d/b/a: “coordinators,” and if these contractors/coordinators/directors are not lucky enough to be in the State/RSD loop, I would suspect that they will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits soon?!! At-will employees in Education in Louisiana! Gawd – you just got to love them!

  • Josh Reyher

    I made the comment at the meeting that Ms. Carsten and Reugger were slandered by comments by people hiding behind monikers. In this case it we Pere Lycee who made the comments that I thought to be slanderous. I accepted the ladies explanation on the pictures, I have never seen a Chateau du Lac Bistro email come to my account via Lycee, according to critics here say I’m BFF with the owner. The unfounded accusation of Ms. Reugger’s prior job crossed the line for me. While Pere, French Friend and you may make inflammatory comments you have no responsibility for what you say because you have no accountability. There is no difference between spoken or written both are defamation of character. No other candidates had people grinding personal axes in their back.

  • nickelndime

    Josh, you appear to be a concerned and truthful individual. Plus, I like your picture. But, I am not quite sure who throwd the axe to which you are referring (although, given Lycee’s short history, some axes have been thowd), but it would appear to me that there are some substantial, legal differences between libel and slander, and there might be some “precedents” that might be cited. In the meantime, Budd (whoever that is) has gotten 3 more votes, so Josh (although I applaud your honesty and integrity – and your picture), you might want to rethink (a/k/a) moniker, and consider that the message might be more important that the messenger.

  • Michael Pinkerton

    5&10 – I’m impressed you know there’s a difference between libel (written) and slander (spoken)! However, you ruined it by suggesting Josh Reyher is a handsome guy. Sure he is, but he’s already boasting about it and the Dads Club will never hear the end of it.