Lycée board will not seek return of $30,000 paid to ex-principal

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Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orleans public charter school will not seek reimbursement for almost $30,000 it paid to a former principal after she resigned, despite a state finding that the payment was never approved by the school’s governing board.

That’s according to one of two news releases the school issued Wednesday that addressed a number of questions surrounding leadership and governance at the school, including the qualifications of Lycée’s current interim chief, the resignations of founding principal Jill Otis and her successor Jean-Jacques Grandiere, and the school’s hiring of a local law firm.

According to the news releases:

• Otis resigned in April 2012, but was paid through July 6, 2012. According to one news release, Lycée board President Jean Montes said former board president Andrew Abrams “decided to accept her resignation effective on a date and in a role that was not clear instead of immediately or with a short defined transition period.”

“Nevertheless,” the statement reads, “the Board has no plans at this time to seek reimbursement of the payments made to Ms. Otis, deferring to Mr. Abrams’ decision and preferring to concentrate on the school’s future.”

• Grandiere was paid for six weeks following his November resignation and also received payment for two weeks of personal leave. The release does not say how much that amounted to. “Montes,” the statement reads, “believes this pay was fair, considering Mr. Grandiere was available and assisted with the transition after his departure, including offering advice and co-signing checks until a new signatory could be processed by the bank, providing services that were necessary for the school during that period.”

• Interim CEO Gisele Schexnider, who was hired in November as academic director and to provide short-term leadership for the school, was chosen in part because of her French roots. “In explaining why the Board opted for Ms. Schexnider over any candidate with a teaching certification from the French government, Board Chairman Jean Montès noted that Ms. Schexnider was raised in France and is a product of and strong advocate for the French curriculum,” the release says.

• The school has hired attorneys Lee C. Reid and Jaimmé Collins of Adams and Reese to help the school respond to “numerous public record requests from The Lens.” The statement says that while the firm has provide pro bono assistance in the past, “formal representation at this time is a good investment.”

• Reid and Collins are also representing the school, Montes, and board member Paige Saleun, who are defendants in a lawsuit filed by Darleen Mipro, a former teacher who claims they defamed her character in the process of firing her.

Earlier this week, The Lens reported details of Schexnider’s qualifications following the Jan. 25 release of her resume, a document The Lens first formally requested in writing on Dec. 12.

In its second year, the 340-student Lycée has struggled to retain leaders, enduring the sudden resignations of two principals. The board in November voted to cut $200,000 from its budget after learning of an $85,000 deficit.

Now, state leaders have stepped in to assist the school in its search for a permanent CEO.

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