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State helps find consultant to guide Lycée Français board

State schools Superintendent John White has taken the unusual step of offering the state’s help to the troubled charter school Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orleans, as it goes about searching for a new leader, according to a letter he sent to the school.

White said he’s helped secure private money to pay for a consulting company, which has already been chosen, to guide the search process.

The school, now in the middle of its second year, has had a woeful beginning – a resignation from its founder, a sudden $85,000 deficit, and a lawsuit from an aggrieved former teacher.

White’s memo, obtained Friday by The Lens, applauds the school for hiring a business manager to rectify that deficit, and for hiring other qualified staff. But White says the school still needs strong leadership, an issue he’s going to help them fix. The Louisiana Public Charter School Association will fund a CEO search for Lycée at White’s request, something organization’s director Caroline Roemer Shirley says they haven’t done before.

Although Shirley, who had been aware of the school’s issues over the past year, had already been looking to help the school, she told White she’d like to train Lycée’s board members, she said. White asked her to help fund a search for a new CEO instead.

“He said, ‘I don’t believe this is a school governance problem. I believe this is a school leadership problem,’ ” Shirley said.

This is the first time the state charter school association has financially supported a school, she said.

White was not immediately available for comment. A spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Education said he was waiting to hear back from him.

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About 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 reporting on charter school transparency and governance. In 2012, she was part of a team that received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for their work following a New Orleans family's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School in Algiers, and she obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. She can be reached at (504) 575-8191.

  • Prefer not to say

    it is interesting that John White and the LDOE will provide support for the Lycee, with the demographics that it has. Where was the support for the Charter Schools they just closed? Were the demographics not a good fit for them to provide support? Where is the investigative reporting on that scandal.

  • kally

    I was just about to say the same thing . Why does this school get special treatment? Why does BESE refuse to investigate any of the complaints that come in to its office. It seems obvious doesn’t it? This school is overwhelmingly white.

    BESE must mistakenly believe that this overwhelmingly white school is gong to have incredible outcomes. What is the aganda here, I have yet to figure it out, but one thing for sure, BESE does everything in its power, including breaking the Law, by withholding foia requests when it come to this school.

    Everything that has gone wrong with this school is due to Governance period ( and they know this!!!) John White must be personal friends with these board members too. He was seen last weekend at CC’s hanging out with Jean Montes. Makes one wonder.

  • Watchdog

    Okay, Quiz- Who fired the first 2 CEOs and the only teacher qualified for special ed and a hundred other things (not to mention the whole office staff)? The LFNO Board. Who will be in charge of hiring and firing this new high powered CEO obtained through an expensive search? YOu got it, the LFNO Board! The ultimate problem with the leadership of the school has been what? The LFNO Board!

    I hope the CEO they hire googles the school. It won’t be a brain surgeon who takes the job with what there is to look forward to in the governance department. Who is going to PAY this savior CEO? I don’t think there is room left in the budget.

    You have to wonder how a man that is the head of our department of education and charged with building Louisiana’s charter system would not understand how a charter school works. Perhaps with a good CEO LFNO would not NEED a strong board. However, the LFNO board will not be hands off. They are too busy trying to keep their school the elitist overwhelmingly white private public haven they have created. Good job John! You are backing a winner. You could have cleaned the board, helped hire a CEO and actually solved a problem. Why didn’t you?

  • Supt. White obviously lost control of this situation and is now CHA. You can look at the people he copied in this letter and wonder how so? It is also interesting that the new BESE President, Chas Roemer, can be involved in this transaction with his sister Shirley. I guess he will continue to flaunt ethics as long as the AG allows it. The next big question is what will happen when the required reporting by BESE/LDOE goes to USEd in regards to the federal grant money thy have been collecting. Will USEd be perished of the truth or will LDOE get even “deeper in debt” by covering up the problems. Without federal funding, how will Lycee keep its head above water? Oh, wellWhite will call another friend of reform on Jindal’s list I guess. As for Ms. Roemer, how can she believe that interceding financially for one school can be appropriate? Does she have a favor to pay back? Too many questions and few answered in my FOIA requests.

  • creole65

    Boy it’s interesting to see the birth of a white charter school in this state. To speak out at its meetings even before it recieved its charter . That some people on the board were only interested in opening this school for the benefit of her children. How from the beginning nothing was said about reaching out to the black or Spanish community,how students were going to come mainly from those parents tired of paying the high tuition at Ecole Bilinque and the othe students paying for pre -k. When they got their charter, they did nothing to attrack black students. How the current chair never came to the initial meetings to draw up the charter,never went to Baton Rouge to the various meetings with the various boards. When he did show up at meetings, he was always late ,If he came at all. Now he believes himself to be the king of the hill because he is board chair. They do dirty things to decent people who worked their butt off . He should (MONTES) have been reported months ago for breaking state law by having illegal meetings on Loyola’s campus on Sundays. He got a break but he then turned around and misused his so called power so that many people were forced to resign or resigned in disgust. He does not know how to run a meeting,he thinks he has the power to put people out of meeting if they speak up and say something he doesn’t like. His game is to intimidate people using the police and security to back him up. I was sent a message that if I came to a meeting he would have me removed. I didn’t knw you could keep a person out of an open meeting.When my only question was about him demanding Mr. Kelly’s resignation, why didn he demand other’s i.e PSaleum who had broken rules previously? I guess that was too intimidating for him.

  • Kally


    Please send that Message to someone at the lens or uptown messenger if you have it in writing. They may find it interesting.