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

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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About Rebecca Catalanello

Rebecca Catalanello edits the Charter School Reporting Corps. A New Orleans native and graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School, Catalanello spent much of her 15-year newspaper career covering K-12 education. For nine years prior to joining The Lens, she worked at the St. Petersburg Times (now called the Tampa Bay Times), where she wrote about school boards, homeschoolers, crime, state politics and virtual education, among other things. She helped cover Hurricane Katrina for the Times in 2005 and, in subsequent years, wrote from her hometown about New Orleanians’ efforts to rebuild. She can be reached at (504) 315-5163.

  • And all this money paid for salaries and legal fees for lawsuits is TAXPAYER money that should be going toward the education of these students. Wake up New Orleans! This is the new public school model according to John White and BESE. Any other school would have been shut down as per LDOE “accountability” rules for charters. Something doesn’t seem right does it?

  • kally


  • Watchdoggie

    I’m still reeling at Ms. Roemer-Shirley’s statement that LFNO was academically sound! What was that based on? Not leap tests. I don’t think children doing well on any standardized tests taken in the first year of attendance at a school can be attributed to the academic environment of the school. Are they just ASSUMING the children will test well? WHY? Demographics?

  • Watchdoggie

    from the Advocate – “Roemer Shirley told parents Monday that the school was singled out for the work because it appears to be academically fit and financially mending, but it needs some managerial shoring up.”

    Where is the track record for judgement on academic fitness? I smell a rat.

  • J’aime Lycee

    Kally, Mathilde, Disillsioned, etc: two words – “Independent Audit” Read it to find out what this board was having to deal with. Whether you like them or not, this board SAVED the school from being driven off a cliff by incompetent people leeching off the system at taxpayer expense.


    First of all, there is a problem (!) – ultimately a taxpayer problem – but one that may be passed on directly to Mipro $$$ as she tries to go thru the brick wall – it is the Adams and Reese LLP connection with the State – Lee Reid. He/Adams and Reese has/have been hired by problem non-profits (i.e., non-profits with problems – very particular problems)that run afoul (or appear to run afoul) of “the law.” Put bluntly, Lee Reid has connections to the State, and in this particular state, that is expensive – i.e., u aynt gonna win. Pastorek’s former law firm was Adams and Reese (Type 2, New Orleans Military/Maritime Academy) – Thank you, BESE and the NACSA who prepared this recommendation. Here are a few connections: Einstein (annual lease renewal at Village de l’Est – possible ethics violations by former principal/CEO posed by Pastorek, later determined unfounded by Ethics Board, but not before the newly seated board ousted the school’s founders – if it wanted to get the lease); Algiers Charter Schools Association (ACSA) – TRSL, teachers’ pensions in question; re-assignment of principals (O. Perry Walker, Behrman); Moton (testing irregularities, possible cheating; possible ethics violations), which brings us to the current situation. This board has hired what law firm? Omagawd! There is a problem!


    “Independent Audit” is an oxymoron. It is like when Moton hired Lee Reid (of Adams and Reese LLP) to determine if (Moton) had cheated on state tests (lmao!). I don’t know who the fall guy/gal was on this fishing expedition (Reid probably threatened the person with loss of pension, etc.), but does anyone actually believe that one person masterminded the alleged cheating that was supposedly going on at this charter school?!? And we are not talking about masterminds over at the OPSB and the Deputy Superintendent of Charter(s) Office (can u believe ?, another one at a six-figure salary and multiple assistants)! Do you think they really want to know if one of “their” charters is cheating on state tests.