Lycée parents ask state education chief to investigate school’s board

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A group of parents from Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orleans charter school have asked the state’s public education chief to investigate its board’s actions regarding recent hiring and firing decisions, including the manner in which it hired its interim chief executive officer.

State schools superintendent John White last month praised Lycée’s board for hiring Gisele Schexnider, whom he described as “an experienced academic director,” and offered his help as the 340-student school seeks to find a permanent CEO.

Schexnider, whom the charter school board hired and named its interim CEO with little public discussion, is a former teacher at Louise S. McGehee School, according to the private school’s website. But neither Lycée board chairman Jean Montes nor Schexnider have responded to The Lens’ numerous requests in the last month for public records outlining her professional experience.

In a Dec. 26 letter to White, the parents say that while they hope Schexnider will develop into a good leader, they have no basis to judge her qualifications for the position. The letter had the return address of parent Amy George-Hirons and included signatures of about 13 other parents of students at Lycée.

“Her resume has not been shared with the public,” reads the letter, which was made available to The Lens by the Louisiana Department of Education in accordance with public records laws. “By her own admission, she has never worked within the construct of the French curriculum, and she has never been in a supervisory position over teachers.”

The letter urges White to investigate the “crisis of confidence” in the board by the school’s teachers and parents.

“The circumstances surrounding the hiring of Ms. Schexnider are but one example of the Board’s lack of professionalism in terms of hiring, firing and staffing retention procedures,” the letter says, “and we would like you investigate this area in a broader context.”

In an emailed response a day later, White told George-Hirons that he expects to receive “additional recommendations regarding the board and leadership in the school” from Jeremy Hunnewell, a management consultant who, at White’s request, will work with the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools to look into Lycée’s operations.

“I agree with you,” White wrote to George-Hirons, “that there are issues with the school’s operations that go beyond the appointment of one person and have asked that such issues be detailed for me as part of the consultant’s report.”

Lycée, a French-immersion school in its second year, has two campuses in Uptown and Broadmoor. It currently serves students in prekindergarten through second grade with the hope of eventually expanding up to the 12th grade. Despite rapid enrollment growth, it has struggled to retain consistent leadership.

Two school leaders, including Lycée’s founding CEO, have resigned. Just two of its original nine board members remain. In November, the board voted to cut $200,000 from its budget after learning of an $85,000 deficit. Last month, a former special education teacher filed a character defamation lawsuit in which she alleged that police were unnecessarily called to force her from the campus when she was fired.

 

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