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Lycée leader: I tried to stop daughter’s bullying at Audubon

The interim chief of Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orleans told parents in a letter Tuesday night that she was banned from her daughter’s school three years ago after she took action to halt her daughter’s bullying.

Gisele Schexnider wrote that her daughter was in the fifth grade in January 2010, when she tearfully told Schexnider that she had been threatened by a male classmate at Audubon Charter School.

The boy, Schexnider wrote, had been “repeatedly bullying her, including physical intimidation and teasing, with acts ranging from a punch in the stomach to mocking a great-grandfather who served as a rabbi in Eastern Europe and was the subject of a report she proudly presented to her class.”

Schexnider said she went to the school to speak to the teacher and to try to stop the boy’s behavior — perhaps getting an apology from the boy. But the boy’s teacher stopped Schexnider from speaking to him.

“I did, however want the situation resolved, so I turned in the boy’s direction and from across the room said I would talk with him and his parents about his behavior after school,” Schexnider wrote before clarifying that she’s not sure three years later whether she mentioned the parents or not.

The boy, she said, laughed in response.

Schexnider said the principal at Audubon assured her that she would investigate the matter.

“Unfortunately, the school’s administrators did misinterpret my words and actions that day as a perceived threat to a student,” Schexnider wrote. “Nothing could have been further from the truth and I am sorry to say that was not the first disagreement I had had with the administrators.”

Schexnider released the statement to parents in response to an article published Tuesday by The Lens. The story detailed a 2010 letter from Audubon assistant principal Dawn Collins to Schexnider prohibiting Schexnider from stepping foot on campus without prior written permission, following what Collins described as Schexnider’s “threat” to a student.

A redacted incident report shared with The Lens in response to a public records request did not describe what sparked the disagreement between Schexnider and the male student.

Neither Schexnider nor an attorney for Lycée responded to The Lens’ questions about the matter prior to the story’s publication.

“In retrospect,” Schexnider wrote in her letter to parents, “had I any idea that letter would come to public light, even in the blogosphere, and reflect poorly on me or on this school, I would have responded forcefully at the time with the true interpretation of events.”

The Lens on Wednesday morning left messages with both Schexnider and with Audubon Principal Janice Dupuy seeking further comment.

Schexnider wrote in her letter to parents that today, her daughter and the child she was accused of threatening “get along just fine.”

The experience, Schexnider wrote, has made her sensitive to bullying concerns in schools and is part of the inspiration for a new anti-bullying program she hopes to institute at Lycée.

Schexnider was hired in November to lead Lycée on an interim basis and to serve as the school’s academic director. A former French teacher at McGehee School for Girls, Schexnider has sought to increase communication at the politically divided school by holding regular coffee talks with parents.

Her hiring was met with substantial criticism from some in the school community who complained it lacked transparency, as the job was never posted. Lycée board President Jean Montes said he hired her without first holding a public meeting. The board later agreed in a public meeting to “ratify” that decision.

In response to loud and detailed criticism of the board’s leadership, another group of parents issued its own letter in support of Schexnider and the changes they believe she has brought to the school.

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  • creole65

    No one would have to ask for records thru a public record request if the truth be told in the first place.

  • kally

    I don’t doubt she was taking up for her daughter, but I still don’t think a public school just bans a parent on a whim. There had to be cause.

    The real problem is that many people already knew about this,as did, at least two members on the current LFNO board ( not too difficult to figure out which two these are ) and they still chose to hire schexneider without due diligence. Hiring friends when you are dealing with the public’s money is never a smart idea.

  • Valerie

    Kally, you clearly do not know what you are talking about. But Kally, why don’t you go find out because none of the blogs reporting on this will, they are ALL bias. As a matter of fact the writer for wrote an entire article based on the information from The Lens. Wow, she really worked hard for her story. I called her, she didn’t return my call. I personally went in today as a parent to speak with Principal of Audubon. I was Disgusted that CHILDREN were brought into this and She would not speak to me. I wanted to know the channels I needed to go through to get the information to find out who was behind this. She shut me down and would not speak to me as a parent of the school. Can you imagine a parent going to a Principal asking for the proper channels to find out information and being told NO? Oh, and by the way, she was just a TEACHER before she became Principal at Audubon. Maybe all the reporters SO interested in this would like to research that since Lycee’s Principal is not qualified but I doubt it. Now with that comment thrown out, I have always felt the best Principals were teachers first. AND MOST SCHOOLS PRINCIPALS WERE JUST LOWLEY TEACHERS! No other qualifications just good old experience. And let’s just be clear, I am not deemed a problem parent. I have never meet the Principal before this and my kid has been at Audubon for three years. Do I have issues at Audubon ? YES but Blogs that do not care for the truth is not the place to air it. I have stayed away from all this mess except one other time when I posted on the Uptowner because I was disgusted. Now I’m disgusted because children were thrown into this horrible, infested pool of destruction. I know how important the French education system is and all of you are destroying it, especially all the blogs only doing one side of the story. I also called and spoke with Marta Jewson yesterday, thank you very much for calling me back. I will not discuss all our conversation (I will not stoop to the level of the article or Audubon for releasing it) BUT I did ask her to speak with the parents at the school. Not the 20 or so disgusted parents (she has listened to them). Not the Board. Not the Principal. Not the teachers. But the parents of the CHILDREN who are in the middle of this hatred. I asked her to be a reporter and get both sides of PARENTS!!!! Maybe I watch too much TV and think that reporters should really dig deep into both sides to find out why one side is feeding the monster, yes I mean all the blogs. She told me anyone could call her. She told me they would only write on news worthy stories. I don’t know if this meant parents who care about the school is not news worthy but I choose to give her the benefit of the doubt. Marta, again, I implore you to be THE reporter and find the other side. You will actually stand out from the crowd. You will be the one reporter NOT just going on the stories from one camp. Believe me it is out there. Or I guess the proof will really be in the pudding next year when there are no students attending the school. Oh wait, one of my friends is number 45, that’s right 45 out of 65 on the waiting list for PreK4. I think the unhappy parents should move happily along into a school they will be happy with and let the long wait list of students waiting for the opportunity for an amazing French education to step in. Marta, why don’t you find out about the long wait list. I’m sure if my friend is number 45 for PreK4 the other classes have a wait list as well. Do you really think all of these other people think the school is so bad if they are on a wait list? Oh and another post wanted to know why other schools don’t have so much bad press. Well let me tell you why Joyus, THEY DON’T HAVE PEOPLE FEEDING STORIES TO ALL OF THESE SITES.

  • kally


    Did they not have to lottery for Kindergarten? They have four prek 4 claases moving up this year and Five kindergarten classes available. No lottery , because there is enough spaces for all. Not the waiting lists in the classes you want. They had to cut their pr3/4 classes because they can’t afford them ( smart move as they don’t pay for themselves) Perhaps this is why the waiting list are there and there is a need for affordable prk programs in the city. last year they had two prk4 classes moving up and 5 kindergarten classes available. Sadly, This is very telling and these numbers are due to the actions of this board and the publicity generated from their dismal decisions.

  • Valerie

    I don’t know Kally, I only know about my one friend. So why don’t you and I go together and find this out? Are you willing? I’m not a parent there are you? And I agree about losing the Pre K. Why don’t you have any response to the rest of my comment? Do you not think the rest was very telling?

  • Valerie

    I want Lycee to succeed not fail. if you are on the same page then lets makes some changes. I will work with you. I don’t care about anything but the children.. Can you say the same?

  • kally

    I can’t imagine anyone wanting a school to fail, but this school seems to making mistakes that hurt their own. I keep urging the parents of LFNO to wake up. Positive blogging is a safe way to help this school.

  • Valerie

    Oh and by the way Kally, I just had my lawyer friends help me write an official public records letter to find out who is behind this hatred. I was told the editor went to get this information but I doubt that. These sites are only feed the stories. They don’t go looking for it. But with in five days we will all know who is behind this because they will have to respond to MY PUBLIC RECORDS letter. I’m sure you and all of your friends will be thrilled to know who is behind this. It will not be here say, it will not be rumors, it will be fact!!!!

  • kally

    Valerie, Are you sure you are not one of the board members at this school? This sounds like a veiled threat to me. Anyone who disagrees with this board seems to labeled “concerned” and against them. I don’t have a child at Lycee, but am sick of what this school is doing to the reputation of French schooling in New Orleans.

    BTW, The lens cannot write articles they cannot back up. They are in a different position than bloogers,as they can be sued for libel in a heartbeat. They write on every charter school and they don’t pick on one more than the others. Maybe lycee just needs more help than the others.I don’t see how you read “hate” into all this. I read incompetence.

  • Prefer not to say

    Valerie, if you want to know the credentials of the Principal of Audubon, it is available FREE on the State’s website. The Principal of Audubon and the Assistant Principal of Audubon both have degrees in Education (not linguistics). They have Master’s Degrees in Administration. The French School Director also has her Master’s Degree in Education Administration. The Montessori Director at Audubon has a PhD. In addition to the years of experience teaching, they have formal education and training to back up their qualifications.

    Audubon did not create this mess. If someone does a public records request for information, by law Audubon has to comply. Since you did a public records request yourself, you must understand how the law works, right?

  • Prefer not to say

    Here is the link to verify certificates, just in case you were not sure……

  • D. Bagh

    Valerie, or should I say Paige, you are an utter and complete liar. Your history of PRRs speaks for itself. You constantly issued requests at Audubon, including one for all teacher/admin salaries and their education records. Do you think you’re putting up an effective veil by blandly claiming these falsehoods? Every one of these articles, every expose, every report, are based in fact. There are public records, public meetings and state-issued reports.

    Deal with it. You can’t hide now. You’re out in the open. You’re now accountable for the misery you cause. Do us a favor and GTFO.

  • Valerie

    Kally and D. Bagh you want to meet me and see who I am? Tell me when and where. How about CC’s coffee house on magazine? I will disuss anything you want. WHat time?

  • Valerie

    Prefer not to say. I apologize for saying the Principal at Audubon was a teacher before she became Principal. I did take that information from two parents at Audubon with out checking the facts. They told me she was a second grade teacher before becoming Principal. If she was in Adm. some where before than I had that wrong. And BTY I didn”t say she Shouldn’t have her job OR j that she was not Qualified just that she was a teacher before. I believe most Principals are Teachers first.

  • Prefer not to say

    Valerie if you have so many problems with Audubon and are disgusted by their behavior, why have you been a parent there for 3 years? School choice is always an option and yet in spite of the “issues” you have with that school you have “CHOSEN” to stay for THREE YEARS!!!

  • Valerie

    Prefer why hide behind your name. I don’t think I ever said I had so many problems. I said I had a few. Which I have handled at the school. Would you like to meet as well with D Bagh and Kally? Give me a time and place. I certainly am not hiding. You clearly know who I am, who are you?

  • Valerie

    Oh Prefer reread what I wrote. I said I was DISGUSTED children were brought into this and you should be too.

  • D. Bagh


    It’s all about the children and that’s why the Lycee board just doesn’t get it.

    Sure, I’ll meet you. Commander’s, lunch? Or are you chained to some lousy wanna-be French dive in Old Metairie?

  • Valerie

    D. Bagh I really don’t care where we meet. Give me a time and a place. I’m thrilled to meet someone who it’s all about the kids.

  • Watchdoggie

    Why is it NEVER the current board at LFNO’s fault. Only the people who are gone get blamed. Doesn’t that raise a red flag? Certainly the two members in question have been there since the birth of this institution. I don’t think anyone who attends this school would think that those two have their heads in the sand. Selective involvement, selective memory…? I don’t think so.