Interim CEO tapped to lead troubled Lycée Français charter

Parents at the troubled Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans charter school on Monday met the woman temporarily charged with leading the school out of a rocky period.

Gisele Schexnider introduced herself as the new academic director to parents during their regular parent teacher organization’s meeting Monday night and said she would be serving as the school’s interim chief executive officer.

Schexnider was hired Nov. 30, a week after former school director and CEO Jean-Jacques Grandiere resigned, according to the chairman of the school’s governing board.

“I know I have several fires to put out,” Schexnider told parents during the PTO meeting.

Board chairman Jean Montes sent a memo to parents on Nov. 24 stating that he and fellow member Dan Henderson would be “filling in” for Grandiere during the transition and that they planned to hire someone for the vacant academic director position soon.

Though the board typically must publicly vote to hire a new CEO, Montes said in an email to The Lens on Wednesday that he was forced to make this decision without immediate board approval. He said Schexnider signed a letter of agreement and began working that same day. The last time the board met was Nov. 12, the week before Grandiere resigned.

“Because of the extraordinary circumstances,” Montes wrote to The Lens, “I had to make the decision to put in place an interim school leader … Such a decision will be up for ratification at the next board meeting.”

The board is expected to meet Monday.

The Lens was unable to contact Schexnider. She has recently been employed as a French teacher at Uptown’s Louise S. McGehee School, according to the private school’s website.

Though Montes and Henderson said they would be filling in for Grandiere in the interim, the board did not vote to take that action either.

“There is no need for one,” Montes wrote in a separate email Wednesday. “As chairman it my responsibility to step up and take care of the organization as needed and as listed in my job description. However I asked a fellow board member to join me so we could share the load in this sudden emergency situation.”

Lycée’s charter states that all hiring will be done by the principal — which in this case is known as the “CEO” — but in the absence of a principal it is unclear to whom hiring decisions fall.

Lycée parent Eva Raines said she was excited about the news that Schexnider has come aboard and isn’t troubled by board members’ actions.

“I don’t pretend to understand the nuances of the board and what roles exactly they have,” said Raines, whose son is in kindergarten there. “I defer to them.”

Raines said she came to know Schexnider at McGehee, where her daughter is in the fourth grade and previously had Schexnider as a teacher.

In only its second year of operation, Lycée Français has endured the resignations of two school leaders and just two of its original nine members remain on the board. Last month, the board voted to cut $200,000 from its budget after learning of a $85,000 deficit.

In its two years the school has also more than doubled in size, with 119 students last fall, according to the state Department of Education, and 341 enrolled currently, according to a school official.

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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • kally

    Why don’t these Lycee parents ever do their homework!!!!!This could be the nail in Lycee’s coffin and lycee parents you will deserve it this time. Why did you not demand from your board, a principal who , at the very least, is a certified teacher with a diploma from the French ministry of Education? That should have been the first requirement. Where is your common sense? This woman is not even a certified teacher in the United States!! She has a masters degree from UNO in Romance Languages. Does Gisele have experience as a principal, does she have any experience as a CEO? Is she very good friends with one of the Lycee Francaise board members? Don’t fool yourself if you think she is not. Can the current teachers respect someone who is not qualified for the job? Were these teachers warned of this situation by the now fired English chair? Is Gisele someone who knows the ins and out of the French educational system? I don’t think so , unless you think working at the alliance francaise or mcgehee will give this knowledge. Yes, she is French,But that is all she is, so the board has fooled you again. Are you blinded because she taught prk-2nd grade at an exclusive private school uptown ? Does this make her qualified? I think not. The Lycee parents deserve so much better than this, but maybe not? You don’t hold your board accountable for anything and choose to put up with this craziness day in and day out. The teachers even tried to get your attention. Wake up parents or you will lose your school.


    Kally- you stole the words right out of my mouth!! If this was happening at any private or pariochial school the doors would of been closed by now!! It is very upsetting to see this day in and day out in the press and to have the entire uptown area talking about it in coffee shops, parks and beyond!
    WHY do LYCEE parents allow one board member to constantly make decisions–huge decisions without a consensus of the full board or with a public hearing? Calling a board meeting is not rocket science!! IT was promised to the parents of Lycee we would have a say in who they would place in this position!! Meet them and give feed back! Maybe the board did not want to hold a board meeting because of how all of them end up being a three ring circus! Where was the national search? ONCE again this is embarrassing! The English head was fired-because she tried to express her concerns in this matter! Other teachers are being threatened if they talk about this chaos! First grade STILL does not have a teacher!! I am sick and tired of parents at this school thinking chocolate will smooth the teachers over! I refuse to come and spend a penny at the Marche this weekend–I have no faith as to where these funds will go! Also–it has been a crime my child has not recieved the IEP services!! I have made a complaint! IT IS DECEMBER! The school year is half way through! Still no IEP services! I am sooo frustrated with this board! It seems they only hire who they are friends with–only do business with friends–NO proper bids ever go out! Uniforms, marketing, enrollment, renovations, yearbook, principals, CEO, food service… the list goes on and on. Hell–even the heads of the PTO are all friends with the board! I was promised a lot when we chose this school and the only thing I have seen are wonderful teachers! FRIDAY WAS HORRIBLE!!! A school is NOT a place to traumatize children! All of the yelling –parents going ballistic–pushing–screaming!
    COME ON parents–when will you all wake up! This is about YOUR children–my children! I can’t stand reading Facebook-it’s like you all are smoking something to think this behavior is acceptable! And to top this all off—on Monday I went to get coffee and two of our lovely board members “D” and “P” were talking and lovely “P” was screaming at him saying that her kids would have to find another school–so, if board members are pulling their kids out–it is beyond time for us too!

  • Amy George-HIrons


    Thank you for your concern. At least some of us ARE doing our homework, but this situation is much bigger than this hire. We are taking actions to rectify this situation but it will take longer to fully resolve. Please be patient with us. Many of us have been here for only four months. The teachers have gotten our attention (and I, for one, feel badly that it took such drastic steps for me to wake up to what they were saying). Having gotten our attention, we will now work together to fix this.

    Be patient with us and stay tuned for positive developments.