At their August board meeting, the board that governs Crescent City Schools approved a 20 percent salary hike for their chief executive officer after an hour-long executive session. They also approved revisions to their finance and operations manual and a new conflict of interest policy.

On July 1, chief executive officer Kate Mehok assumed responsibility for Akili Academy, in addition to the organization’s initial school, Harriet Tubman Charter School. Board members went into an executive session to discuss her performance.

When they reconvened an hour later, board member Agnieszka McPeak announced that Mehok would receive a salary of $120,000, which Mehok confirmed was a 20 percent increase from what she was making.

The increase puts Mehok in line with the marketplace, McPeak said.

Board members later turned to approve changes to their finance and operations manual. Among the changes were revised segregation of duties policies between the charter management organization and the individual schools, revised policies on federal grants, and revised policies on vendor selections.

Those changes passed, with an added caveat that board members would add an additional section to the manual on professional services at their next meeting.

In other news, board members approved a conflict of interest policy, at the request of one of their funders, New Schools for New Orleans. The nonprofit organization is going through an audit, and is asking some of the schools it partners with to tighten up their controls as a response.

The conflict of interest policy is the template that New Schools for New Orleans uses, and it requires anyone who does have a financial interest in any contract that Crescent City enters into to fully disclose and abstain from a vote on that contract – which is fairly standard, chief operations officer Chris Hines said.

Still, the policy sparked some discussion among board members. Coleman Ridley wanted to know if the policy included caveats from the state conflict of interest laws, to which Hines responded that Crescent City isn’t trying to replace state policies; rather, the organization wanted to create a policy specific to its own operations. Ridley then stressed that he’d like more time to look through it.

“I just don’t have a level of comfort with it right now,” he said. McPeak agreed, saying she’d feel more comfortable if she could sign it after reading it thoroughly. Hines stressed that board members could read the document over and then bring it to the board retreat.

The board’s annual retreat will be held this Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Jones Walker Law Firm. The board will discuss governance issues.

Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her...