Charter Schools Related schools coverage »

Lycée leaders to meet with French council amid parent concerns

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans charter school officials announced Monday they will meet with the organization that supplies French teachers to the school, amid concerns about the relationship between the two organizations.

Worried parents questioned the Lycée board’s commitment to the French national curriculum at a special meeting Monday night. Board members reassured the crowd that the school is devoted to offering students both an American diploma and French Baccalaureate.

“There are allegations swirling that we’re going to lose a substantial number of our teachers,” parent Charles Varley told the board. Varley asked for reassurance from the board that the French curriculum would be maintained.

“Parents and teachers have been told that French accreditation has taken a lower priority,” said parent Stuart McClure.

The questions came during a meeting called for management consultant Jeremy Hunnewell to present the board with his recommendations to improve school management and governance.

Following turmoil in the fall, including a $200,000 budget cut, several lay-offs and the resignation of the school’s second leader in two years, State Superintendent John White intervened.

White called in the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, who arranged for Hunnewell of EMH Strategy to help the school assess its management issues and find a permanent chief executive officer.

Hunnewell’s report calls for a new school leader and changes on the board. His recommendations included a job description for a new CEO and a hiring timeline.

The board unanimously accepted the plan, with only minor modifications at the request of board member Dan Henderson.

Henderson wanted to change a statement that read, “The most critical issue is that the school has not had, nor does the school currently have, the appropriate school leader.”

He asked that the board amend it to read only that “the school does not have an appropriate leader” to avoid any judgment of past principals.

But while Hunnewell begins forming a three-person search committee for the new CEO, parents minds were still on French accreditation and French teachers.

Lycée leaders will meet in the next week with The Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) which works with Lycée to provide French nationals trained in the French curriculum to teach at the school, Hunnewell said.

“I doubt that Lycée has the financial means to hire immigration attorneys who approve French national teachers certified without CODOFIL,” proclaimed McClure, “We don’t have the financial wherewithal.”

Board Chairman Jean Montes initially responded to parent concerns about the French curriculum by reading the school’s mission statement, which emphasizes the opportunity for students to earn the French baccalaureate.

Hunnewell said while retaining CODOFIL teachers isn’t critical, he thinks if the school were to hire its own teachers from France the process would be be too complicated and expensive.

Hunnewell said they would have a conversation about his recommendations and what they entail for each entity.

“I think it’s important that we retain the French teachers,” said Hunnewell.

Hunnewell said several stakeholders will attend the meeting, including CODOFIL, the Lycée board, and the French consulate. Many feel it is important the school maintain good relationships with CODOFIL the school since CODOFIL places French educated teachers at Lycée while also handling periphery issues like work visas.

Rafael Gang, chief of staff at the state education department’s Office of Portfolio, was present at the meeting and said he would also attend the meeting with CODOFIL.

“It’s a committee to look at the future and figure out how we can partner,” said Gang, “to figure out how we can move forward together.”

While some parents struggled with the assurance of French curriculum, others were concerned about board governance. They eagerly listened to Hunnewell’s recommendations. Board members actually responded to some questions, something they haven’t always been keen to do in the past.

“We didn’t have a finance committee,” Hunnewell acknowledged as he laid out his suggestions.

Hunnewell and Caroline Roemer Shirley, executive director of the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, both emphasized the need for committees.

“The work of the board should be done in committees,” said Hunnewell

Roemer Shirley explicitly addressed the importance of transparency and following open meeting law within those committees.

“Committee work is not done in back rooms, committees fall under that transparency and public meeting law,” said Roemer Shirley.

With a motion on the table to form a governance committee and allow board president Jean Montes to appoint members a few parents voiced concerns.

“We have lost faith that things will be done in a fair and open way,” said Robin Young, whose son attends Lycée.

In January, Young signed an eight-page letter as part of the Rebuilding Trust Working Group. The letter called for changes in school governance, including the recusal of board members Montes and Paige Saleun as they are both defendants in a defamation lawsuit filed by a former teacher.

Young was concerned the board had become so insular, that external influence would be a necessity in the search for new members. She expressed admiration for members’ hard work, but pleaded that they bring in outside help.

“I really urge that we have some kind of third party or outside help in selecting our new board members,” she asked.

Montes asked that Hunnewell, Roemer Shirley, and Gang serve as ex-officio members on the governance committee. All three ensured they would continuing working with the board. Montes appointed board members Catherine MacPhaille and Joel Vilmenay to the committee.

Hunnewell recommended working with LAPCS’s Top Shelf program. A board member placement program that helps identify and prepare potential board members for charter school boards. Board members were open to the arrangement and Roemer Shirley vowed her program continue working with the board.

Parent Larisa Diephuis called for a renewed search for the academic director position. She was concerned with the board’s rapid hiring of Gisele Schexnider in November, as Montes hired her prior to a board vote.

“The most important thing is for a school leader to have confidence trust and loyalty among his or her staff,” said Henderson after the meeting.

Henderson said the discussion of whether or not to reopen the academic director position would have to come from the new school leader.

Even though the report suggested a change of guard may be necessary once a school is up and running, it isn’t clear what that will mean for current board members.

*Saleun, one of the founding board members, said her terms ends June 30, 2014. When asked later by e-mail whether she plans to serve out that term, Saleun did not give a clear yes or no, but said she will defer to the consultants’ recommendations.

Saleun would not comment on The Rebuilding Trust Working Group’s calls for her to recuse herself from the board amidst a charter defamation lawsuit from a former teacher.

Board members Montes, Saleun, Henderson, Jacqueline Simon and Catherine MacPhaille were present for the meeting. Member Joel Vilmenay was absent. Board member Hema Banagada reportedly resigned in recent weeks. The meeting began at 6:38 p.m. and adjourned at 7:40 p.m.

Montes said the date for the governance committee had not been decided yet. The board will meet again on March 11.

*Correction: An earlier version of this post reported that board member Paige Saleun said she intended to serve out her term through 2014. In an email to The Lens on Wednesday, Saleun said The Lens was mistaken on that point. This story reflects that change.

Help us report this story     Report an error    
The Lens' donors and partners may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover.
About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • “Paige Saleun told The Lens she plans to serve out her term through June 30, 2014.” Montes may be more sensible. The more professionals call for “turnover of the board”, the more this amateur seems to dig in her heels. The consultants are quite politic in not naming names. It seems this individual will not heed the advise of the experts and the only way to achieve turnover on the board is for John White to step in and remove this member. Or is that even possible? If this individual continues to dig in her heels and bury her head in the sand is it possible for her to remain in sustained spite?

    My personal message to Jean Montes and Paige Saleun. This school is much bigger than you, and this is not the homecoming court. Please show your maturity and heed these calls to step aside. There are many competent and reasonable people who could ably fill your shoes and the school will be able to put this chapter of conflict in the rear view mirror. I’m sure you’ll still be able to find a positive way to contribute to the sustained growth of the school.

  • Isn’t this school operating outside the legal requirements set forth in its charter? Number of members on the board for starters. Why is it so important for Lycee to retain its “relationship” with the French Council? Could it be that keeping the French Immersion status also ensures the ability of this school to have selective admissions and is it going too far and in fact discriminating. Is this school in compliance with the federal requirements needed for its federal grant money? Cannot be selective admission. What is the new interventionist REALLY focused on? In all this discussion about governance and structure – what about the quality of education being provided for these children? No mention.

  • Lee, I’ve never heard anything except outstanding reviews of the education that the children are getting. Have you heard otherwise? The relationship with CODFIL is essential if they want to have trained and vetted teachers. As one parent mentions, the school does not have the resources to handle recruitment of native French qualified teachers. Thanks for asking these tough questions . Given the history of this board, it’s important for those of us with enough distance for perspective to keep asking and keep watching.

  • TimGNO

    How do you say ‘Crazy House’ in French?

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    I do not think that the Hunnewell report called for some board members to step down, but identified the need for recruiting individuals with different skill sets than those currently serving on the LFNO Board. I believe that Roemer Shirley and Hunnewell want to move forward, ignoring the real problems, creating a fresh start. They have latched on to the theory that this is a CEO problem. I disagree with the report’s conclusions, as it is one-sided. It was in the best interest of the school for Hunnewell to have communicated with the former CEO’s, the CFO and employees to get to the truth, and have a complete picture of what has transpired. I expect a consultant to be thorough in uncovering all the facts, not just some. I am not impressed with Hunnewell’s lack of thoroughness, however, it was easier to achieve the predetermined conclusion of a CEO problem pronounced by our illustrious state superintendent. Don’t want to disagree with the boss.

    Ironically, I recently received the following quote from an email sent by the Louisiana Association of Charter Schools – Roemer Shirley’s group.

    “Everyone knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it is a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.” ( Woodrow Wilson)

    This quote so identifies the business and unprofessional practices of the LFNO board, given the release of board member’s emails in regard to the termination of the LFNO principal. How enlightened of the LA Charter ASS. to point this out.

    Professionals know that a wound must be treated to ensure healing. It is apparent that White, Gang, and Roemer Shirley have a different agenda in regard to Lycee – protecting the reputation of a charter school, while deliberately ignoring the root cause. The public has been led to believe that charters are providing an outstanding school environment and a quality education for our children. Lycee’s difficulties illuminate the fallacy of that logic. Not every charter school is measuring up to that standard. Cover-ups have taken place to preserve the public’s uneducated perception of the success of these schools, We all want to believe the on-going problems with public education in New Orleans have been resolved with the creation of charter schools. However, that is not factual.

    There is a quotation from Philippians that says, ” Let each of us look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Board members should consider that advice, and heed the following – “A wise unselfishness is not a surrender of yourself to the wishes of anyone, but only to the best discoverable course of action.” If board members were strongly commited to the school’s mission, the children, the faculty/staff, the parents and to the community, they would walk away, giving the school an opportunity to right itself, but it is apparent that their agenda, and motivations are more important.

  • Josh Reyher

    Lee it is not just about French immersion but the French National curriculum taught in French. CODFIL assists in acquiring certified teachers. French certified teachers play a significant role in earning certification. Certification is a lengthy process. If CODFIL were to back out some parents believe that this would derail that process.

  • The term “aspirational” has been thrown around quite a bit in “reform” circles. In thiscasethe aspirational vision for this school far exceeds the reality since day 1. This school is held up by the state to be a public school and MUST therefore be open admissions to fulfill that label. By virtue of its French immersion status, it cannot avoid being selective based on language skills at least beyond first grade. The information I have from a number of parents is that this board has succeeded in limiting the admissions of African American and poor students. The evidence is there and yet BESE and White are refusing to act on it. The aspirations of parents for this school are interwoven with the reality that it has become or was designed to be an exclusive school operating on taxpayer money.

  • Josh Reyher

    Lee I was just addressing your CODFIL response to how the curriculum is designed nothing to do with admissions. The discussion regarding admissions has been addressed at BESE. I don’t know the numbers and I would recommend contacting a school official.

  • jppss parent

    Lee – it seems to me that any school that has a set education course would eventually have selective admissions past a certain grade. If I wanted my son to attend a Science course driven school I would not be calling foul if trying to enter him into the school at 2nd or 3rd grade when he would not be prepared or as far along educationally to meet the standard of education offered by said school. I also want to note that Lycee isn’t an immersion school. That would imply that the kids are being taught LA standard education courses but spoken to in French. Lycee is a French School that forwards the curriculum of the French National Government. A system that is more advanced in teaching & learning than LA’s programs. How is this any different than an art school or the IBO program followed at Riverdale High in Jefferson Parish. My child attends Lycee and has also attended JP’s immersion school. There is more diversity at Lycee than the other from my experience. We also need to retain a relationship with the French Council & CODOFIL to help fill the positions needed to follow the French Curriculum. And personally, I want the benefit that learning a second language brings to the table when educating my children. ISL & JP both run very public schools that offer different languages and courses. Why aren’t these systems under attack for “exclusion”? Yes we have board issues and hopefully we can look back on all this a lessons learned and other schools & future boards are looking at our failings as examples of what not to do. But don’t throw the baby out with bath water and call all of our achievements bad. If what is being offered is not needed in this state (NOTE THIS IS A STATE CHARTER NOT A NOLA ONLY CHARTER) then there wouldn’t be the waiting list and other immersion type schools being created and built. See the advancements from the all French Immersion school in Lafayette & Baton Rouge areas and the test scores they are bringing in.

  • Maruchie

    Why do people keep attributing malice to certain Board members?? Where is the evidence?? I don’t see any.

    Actually, I see lots of evidence to the contrary. Information that has come out over the past few months clearly shows this Board making decisions for the welfare and future of the school.

    Mrs. Saleun and Dr. Montes insisted that the Board member who was stealing from the Lycee by charging his personal phone to the school resign. They also agreed that the Board member who threatened to “bitch slap” another Board member resign. Who disagrees with these actions???

    Mrs. Saleun and Dr. Montes, along with other Board members, also insisted that the school not be mismanaged. The degree of mismanagement under Otis/Grandiere was astounding, as described in the auditor’s report. At least the Board offered both of them generous severance packages, and I think this reflects fairness and humanity on their part. But, does anyone think the school should keep administrators when there is evidence that they are grossly mismanaging the school???

    When the school was found to be in deficit, this Board insisted that the school operate within its budget. Yes, this involved releasing some people and focusing more responsibilities on fewer people, but does anyone think the school should operate over its budget???

    When parents complained that Special Ed programs were not being run properly and it came to light that a teacher was inciting colleagues with lies, she was fired. Should the school maintain an employee who doesn’t do her job but does use school equipment to stir up trouble among other employees?? (Astonishingly, she is still involved and reportedly planned and coordinated the attacks on the Board at Monday’s meeting.)

    I’ll grant that this Board has made some mistakes…among them poor communication and initially not following open meetings rules…..but, they are human, they are volunteers, and the Lycee is a brand new venture. Overall, I feel they have displayed remarkable courage to do the right thing for the school and the children. As for any mistakes, what evidence is there that there was ever malicious intent??? I see none and I see none presented by the 1.75% of parents and grandparents who are rabid in their enmity for certain Board members.

    What I do see is character assassination by a few people with personal agendas….sadly with The Lens aiding and abetting. I think this campaign is truly disgusting and it goes to show what kind of damage can be done by a handful of mean-spirited people in partnership with a publication that will foment scandal so as to increase the number of hits on its site and augment its advertising revenues.

  • Josh Reyher

    Maurice, nice job encapsulating some great points. I have been outspoken on the same and the progress our school has made. I would ask you to reexamine your point regarding The Lens and UPTM. They are reporting what they discover. They have played a significant role in covering LDOE, LAPCS, and EMH’s recent endeavors. Yes we are sensitive to how we are viewed in the public light. I believe our conduct in this light has been respectable. When my wife and I were trying to determine where to send our girls we relied on UPTM and The Lens to gave us a feel. Sifting through the drama we saw and continue to see an engaged community focused on Lycee’s success. New Orleans needs The Lens and UPTM.

  • Nola

    Here we are again, making the victims the villains. The Special Ed teacher you speak of was instrumental in getting LFNO Louisiana 4 Funding and many grants. She has YEARS of experience in exemplary, successful public schools (excellent track record). The same is the case for the first principal (excellent track record). Alternatively, the individuals you are touting as having the best interests of the children at heart have caused problem after problem at other schools (horrible track record) and are now driving LFNO into the ground at the expense of the tax payers, truly at risk families, minority children AND the families who have committed to the school and cannot easily find another school. If you are blaming the Lens and the Uptown Messenger for reporting the news, then you will scapegoat anyone who says what you don’t want to hear. The emperer has no clothes. Quit trying to tell him he’s dressed.
    Further, I would use caution in parroting too many inaccuracies about teachers and administrators who were let go from LFNO. If I were their attorney I would use such posts as evidence that their names have been defamed by the LFNO board members in question. Certainly it is evidence of continuing damages.

  • Wallflower

    Well said, Nola. As for Maruchie, s/he obviously is not in the loop of the opposition to the Board or s/he would know the former Special Ed teacher didn’t coordinate anything. We are quite capable of doing that ourselves. So, I’d be very careful about spreading blatant lies around to a growing group of people who know what is actually going on behind the scenes. And to my knowledge there was no attack on the Board Monday evening, only questions being asked. Sorry if you were outnumbered in that meeting, Maruchie, but you might need to get used to feeling that way. There are a few naked (and desperate) emperors running around, searching for shelter. You can shelter them if you like, but just remember, the ones who decided that those emperors don’t deserve those fancy clothes, and stripped them down — they have lawyers, and very loud voices. Those voices are speaking the truth, and a lot of people are listening.

  • Wallflower

    I’d like to point out that these sentences — Saleun, one of the founding board members, said her terms ends June 30,
    2014. When asked later by e-mail whether she plans to serve out that term, Saleun did not give a clear yes or no, but said she will defer to the consultants’ recommendations. — read very differently in the first edition of this story, which clearly stated that Ms. Saleun stated she planned to serve out her term. So, Lens, which is it?

  • Steve Myers

    You are correct, Wallflower. Ms. Saleun contacted reporter Marta Jewson after the story was published. She said that what we reported initially — that Saleun said she intended to serve through the end of her term — was inaccurate.

    Jewson checked her recording and could not confirm her understanding of Saleun’s comment, so we agreed to correct the error. She asked Saleun again whether she intended to serve out her term, but Saleun did not answer definitively one way or the other.

    We made the correction and noted it at the bottom of the story.

  • Wallflower

    OK, thanks for that clarification. I didn’t see the notation at the bottom of the story.

  • Steve Myers

    No problem at all. Thanks for reading!

  • Joy Van Buskirk


    First point, if indeed as you say, Jean Jacques was given a severance package, then your defense of the LFNO board is a joke. When was a severance package for Jean Jacques discussed in an open board meeting so that the public would learn how much it would cost taxpayers? When did the board vote on Jean Jacques’ severance package? That vote is required of any board that receives funds from taxpayer dollars. What about the state’s public bid law in regard to the hiring of a school lunch provider? The board is required by its charter to put that program out for public bid. That never took place. No vote was ever taken. Another example of worst board practices, and violation of the law. If you characterize these statements as character assassination, please look up the meaning of character assassination. You might learn something.

    Second point – yes, board members are human, but there is no excuse for any public board to continuously violate the public’s sacred trust, especially when close to two million taxpayers’ and Federal dollars are involved. You seem to be carefree as to how other’s tax monies are spent on your child or children’s school. You use the excuse that board members are volunteers? This is not play school or use of play money. No one forced them to sign on. This is about millions of dollars of citizen’s monies. I cannot believe that anyone with an ounce of sense or an iota of intelligence would make such nonsensical excuses.

    Third point – the audit might prove to be a future problem. Other professionals are giving it a look. I guess you believe that it is was the responsibility of the founding principal to force the board to do its job by requiring them to discuss and vote on its’ arrangement with her during a public board meeting. Board votes are required when such expenditures are to be made. How insightful of you. Just who is the boss here? Is it the CEO? Did she hire the board? How would that happen? Please enlighten me and others should charter school CEOs face the same fate in the future. Your advice may empower them to push their boards around, and tell them who is boss.

    Fourth point – again, another unenlightened statement from you – 1.75 % of the parents and grandparents are rabid about this board? Tell me how have you arrived at the percentage? Give me your documentation, as the majority of the LFNO parents have not signaled their positions. There are three hundred twenty some children attending LFNO. That may total 500 parents, as I am thinking about single parent families. However, that figure could be more. Your board parent groupies have about 55 members as 60 signed a letter, some of which were not associated with the school. I am not sure today about the other group. Let’s give them 50 also. The two groups total 100 plus parents. What about the other 400? Where do they stand? Your bunch carelessly throws around numbers and percentages. Provide the documentation.

    Fifth point – you see character assassination by others in regard to your board. However, in your post, you assassinated the characters of former employees. You and your kind feel completely free and justified in defaming former employees to defend your board buddies. Do you not see an inconsistency in logic here? You impugn other’s reputations without substantial proof of your statements. Look to the audit, you say. Well, I did. I saw that the auditor stated that there was no authorization for paying the terminated principal. Yes, that is true, as the board did not discuss and vote on this issue at a board meeting. When a vote is not taken on money issues, there is no authorization to expend taxpayer monies. I am not concerned about how your tax money is spent, but I am in regard to mine.

    Sixth point – you speak about the budget. From what I can tell, the board spent taxpayer monies quite freely, hiring others to clean up the new facility when parent volunteers could have been used – near $20,000, buying curtains, a consultant friend’s salary to oversee the opening of the new school, and on and on. The board terminated three employees in early October stating that the school had to change its organizational structure due to a shortfall, and then promptly sent the Employment Office a notice in regard to those employees, as required, and stated a completely different reason for their terminations- that these employees could not meet their job requirements. I have seen the documentation to support the aforementioned. I will supply it to you, if requested. Why would the board and its administrators do that? Were they focused on these individuals being deprived of unemployment? How callous and mean-spirited is that depriving people of monies to keep a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and clothes on their backs? Luckily those employees had their termination papers. What do you suppose the Unemployment Office employees thought of your board and its administration distorting the truth trying to prevent their ability to collect unemployment? You speak of others being mean-spirited in regard to the board, but what about them? In a matter of months, more employees were hired to fill those positions. I thought that the board was short of funds – $85,000? The board terminates a teacher, and then two are hired in her place. I thought the board was short of funds? Pardon me if I do not get exercised about the shortage that the board claimed was due to others. Perhaps monies fell from the skies or perhaps, as you have stated in your comments, these employees were trouble makers, and the board wanted to rid themselves of them. How do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that was factual also? Troublemakers? Just who are the real troublemakers here? The terminated employees? I guess your board buddies told you so. How about doing some investigative work here. How about asking the terminated employees their side of the story? Oh, why bother from your standpoint the employees are the liars, and your board buddies are the pillars of integrity.

    Seventh point – you take a poke at the news media because they have reported on LFNO. Your suggestion is that they should report on other’s problems and not that of the school’s. Interesting. Let’s everyone ignore the outrages that have been committed by this board, and look to something else. I say outrages because this board has ignored conducting the lawful business of taxpayers, required by their positions. Pardon the news for pointing that out. I guess journalists should be about the business of counting how many trees are in City Park now. i am sure that is something that concerns taxpayers more. If you do not like how the Lens, Uptown Messenger, the Times Pic, and Morning Advocate conduct their journalistic reporting, then don’t read their articles.

    I unlike you, do not count on listening to other’s excuses in regard to laying the foundation to determine what my position should be on anything. I collect data to support my claims. I will be the first to admit I am not 100% in trying to achieve that objective. In this case, I have looked at the law, I know the charter provisions quite well, and I have had opportunities to hear both sides plead their cases. Both sides, not one side. I have been held accountable in the past when I have not followed through on that systematic approach, and deservedly so. I suggest that you start formulating your opinions based upon solid evidence and fact, not just hear say. That might serve you better in the future. We live in an imperfect world, surrounded by imperfect people, including you and me. However, we have a duty to be lawful citizens, and hold government accountable for the tax monies that we are required to pay. I surely could spend those monies in other ways. Charter school boards are part of government, and require great scrutiny. I am sorry that you are so lame as to not understand that responsibility.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Thanks for understanding that journalists’ jobs require reporting all the news. Although you believe that this board has made progress in cleaning up its act, (I have some disagreement with that assumption), I would ask how you think that it happened? Is it because the press forced the board’s hand by reporting their behavior to the public, thereby holding them accountable?

    Maruchie, I understand your defense of the LFNO Board, since one of its members is your best friend, however, I would hope that you would consider Josh’s post. The press is a valuable tool in getting to the facts. It does not rely upon excuses and deceit. The press is held liable for what it prints. People such as you who refuse to be identified can abuse first amendment rights to ensure your questionable statements are printed, and continue to take cheap shots at others. Woman up, and with your next post, identify who you are.

  • Maruchie

    Incredible! Taking molehills and trying to make them mountains. It would be astounding if it were not such a predictable strategy. It is unconscionable to make insinuations of wrongdoing with leading, open questions. Why? What is your motivation? Do you have a child at the school? A grandchild? Do you volunteer at the school that you supposedly care so much about?

    Please don’t say you are just civically minded. It’s hard to believe someone would spend this much effort in a fight without having a personal connection. Why such deep-seated and personal dislike for some board members? What is the personal connection?

    I shared my own personal viewpoint as a parent and based on what I’ve seen and heard and many conversations with other parents. By the way, the comment about the special Ed teacher was based on several parents who told me they never received a response from her regarding their children. I feel the board has done a good job, particularly in light of the void in administrative leadership (perhaps most blatantly over the summer. I still don’t understand how the director of the school could choose to take a summer vacation as the school was trying to open). It is so hard to build something new, yet so easy to destroy. It is too bad someone with your time and energy is involved in the second.

  • Wallflower

    Maruchie, you have a lot of nerve calling people mean-spirited. Do you not see the irony here? Picking on Joyous, JJ and the Spec Ed teacher is OK, but, God forbid anyone say anything about YOUR friends. As for Joyous, I do believe her personal connection is that she wrote most of the charter. Hmmm, and it’s confusing as to why she cares so much about this school? JJ took a summer vacation, at the continual pleading of his father, to visit his mother, who was very ill. He was quite distraught at having to make that decision, as I’m sure anyone would be, to be torn that way. He also had some business with the French government, on behalf of Lycee. What an evil monster. And the Special Ed teacher? Do you really know her, or are you just drinking the Kool-Aid that the Lycee board doles out? That’s what I thought — but red mustaches are just for kids. Please grow up, and stop protecting these people at the expense of all of our kids, yours included.

  • Nola

    jppss parent- it is an immersion school. The kids are immersed in French immediately. It teaches the French Curriculum (for as long as it can get teachers that can teach that curriculum…a loss that is the result of the actions of your beloved board members) that is true too. I would argue that the success that “immersion” schools have is also a result of the background of the children that attend the schools and the additional assistance that the parents of these children can afford offer. I know many people with children in such schools, most can afford to pay for tutoring and extra help for their children as they progress. It’s hard to help proof read a paper in French if you do not speak French. Additionally, ISL has a student body demographic that is representative of the state of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans… I am extraordinarily skeptical of “LFNO’s 40 percent “at risk” number. If we continue to only create and support immersion schools because the scores for the schools are higher, and such schools somehow manage to stay oddly wealthy and homogenous, then we have found a way to again create a separate but equal environment.

    ALSO, federal start up funding was granted to LFNO (not ISL). That funding is meant for schools without Tuition (the pre-k debaucle) and without selective admissions. The state has obscured that requirement. JVB asks great questions about where all of the money is now coming from. I’d like to know how (with an 85 k shortfall which was painstakingly made up by slashing expenses) the school will afford a NEW CEO and balance the budget. Also, where is the money coming from for Adams and Reese to run board meetings and why was there no budget report at the last meeting….I guess we won’t know until the next fixed audit.

  • jppss parent

    Nola – I’m not going to argue about the definition of immersion school, because we will never agree. If any school offered the type of curriculum my child is getting in english or any other language I would jump at the opportunity. The added bonus that kids are learning a 2nd language at the beginning of their education career is undeniable. I do take exception to knowing many people w/ children in such schools being able to afford tutors & extra help. I can’t afford that and neither can most of my child’s friends’ parents. That is assuming something you know nothing about on a personal and financial level. Have you noted that in East Baton Rouge in a total at risk community the regional elementary school switched to immersion teaching program and their test scores rebounded and still move forward with each testing period. Are you saying that that school has become elitist? What about in Lafayette Parish they are experiencing the same type of growth at their public immersion school? It’s not elitist to people with money, but maybe parent’s that believe this is the education path they want their child to pursue. JP received grants and monies to promote their PreK-4 program up through the 2010-11 school year that allowed children that enrolled in their immersion program to attend for free. YOU just had to commit as a parent that this is the type of schooling you chose for your child and provide the support for the education. Same as any parent that enrolls in the International School for IBO studies or to get a child tested in the Magnet schools. Going to school isn’t just showing up each day and hoping it all sticks. Parents have to be involved and also part of the success of the child it doesn’t matter if they receive the government assistance or are just hard working and want their kids to have a better education than what they received.

  • Joy Van Buskirk


    The personal connection here is that I wrote the lion’s share of the charter. I do not have to have a child, grandchild, etc. to point out legitimate problems with the school and its board. Where were you and your best board buddy when we were struggling to get the charter document ready for review and adoption? You attended one meeting, and we never saw you again. Your best board buddy can have an idea, but putting the pieces together takes time, skill, and know how. My reputation is on the line because a BESE member who was our district member was opposed to charter schools, and decided to support our effort because she and I had worked together for a decade. Her name, Louella Givens. BESE members look to the one whose district the school will be in, and then support he or she in its adoption or rejection. I will not get into the failed first charter document that was presented and rejected in 2009, as I would engage in a personal attack there. The interim board made promises in the charter which this board has chosen to ignore. The charter is state law. You and others look at it as a fairy tale, but it is the blueprint for running the school which cannot be changed without amendment and approval from BESE.

    From whom did you hear that there was a void in administrative leadership? it is easy for you to trash other’s reputations. I have pointed out how this board has continued to break the law, and its charter commitments. That is not a personal attack, but one of substantiation.I am sorry that you are too ignorant to understand the difference between personal attacks and holding a board accountable for following the law. I am not engaging in here say as you, but presenting the facts.

  • Nola

    You have listed several examples that are essentially the issue. LFNO did NOT offer
    free pre-k tuition in its first year and only had limited space for that its
    second year. Also, some parents are simply not equipped to “help”
    their children, which would make a foreign language curriculum very daunting.
    Attracting those families requires a commitment to outreach, and a lot of free
    after school homework help and tutoring if necessary. LFNO is not financially
    equipped to offer these services. Is LFNO even offering gifted and talented
    services for the children who currently attend? The rent alone on the St.
    Francis of Assisi building is a huge drain. Next year will not be any easier.
    LFNO has chosen not to maintain a relationship with MacMillans First Steps
    which would have been a great way to attract at risk kindergartners with
    experience in French (had LFNO honored the promise of providing a pre-k
    teacher). Immersion (my definition) curriculums are difficult and many children
    just can’t do it. So a proliferation of schools that cannot meet the needs of
    all children makes absolutely no sense to me. The greater New Orleans area has
    a number of such schools already. I am sure you have heard the projections of
    the number of kindergartens ISL feels it needs just to feed a high school. That
    is because very few new students can transfer in to those programs. I still
    don’t understand why LFNO did not look for a building in Jefferson Parish to
    house the school. It would have been less expensive than Uptown New Orleans and
    would have been more appealing to other families in Jefferson parish. Had
    LFNO’s interest truly been to make the French curriculum available to all
    students they would have found a building some place besides Uptown New Orleans
    with a lower rent, and honored the outreach promised in the charter. There were
    other goals in mind. One only has to look at the pre-k girls in their sacred
    heart like pinafores to understand what that goal was. That is not to say that everyone at the school is wealthy or elitist. Merely that the intent and the result has been such.

  • Yoy Lord

    Why O’ Why does the wounded dragon try to lift its head again? Perhaps it is feeling a false sense of rejuvenation from the “vanilla, say nothing” consultant’s report. Who was pleased by the report except those who were looking for a crumb of support? One only has to look at opportunity and motive to understand the conclusions of the report. Was there opportunity for the consultant? Of course there was! Lycee’s mismanagement by its renegade board, coupled with BESE’s need to save face created all the opportunity the consultant needed. Was there motive to provide such a “say nothing new” and “don’t point fingers” report? Of course there was! “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you” and there will be more lucrative work in the future. This is already playing out since the consultant has been appointed to put together the search committee and, I am sure, will be able to continue to bill hours during the entire search. Is it really necessary to continue to pay for services which most school boards are expect to provide for themselves? Beyond the opportunity to stay actively engaged at Lycee, there is future opportunity to be awarded additinal contracts by BESE. If BESE needs another rubber stamp in the future to save face, who will it consider? Certainly it will not look to find a consultant who might be critical of what has gone on or who might make strong demands for immediate action. It will turn to someone who has already given them what they wanted.

    One might conclude that the consultant is vegetarian. There certainly was no meat in the report.

    There are so many problems at Lycee and not acknowledging them or addressing them will not make them go away. The great eye opener provided by the consultant that Lycee needs better management is not the only thing it needs. If the consultant looked at the posts, read the news artilcles, and paid attention to the outcry from teachers and parents, it could have included so much more that needs to be addressed. Who really thinks that a new CEO is the total answer? The consultant should have included in the job description: “able to work miracles, must have supernatural powers” if it felt that a new CEO would solve all the problems. The Dragon simply has too many heads for one person to cut off, regardless of how great he/she might be. The conclusion that the board should serve out its term and preparations should begin to add and replace members as terms end does not solve immediate problems. If the current board is not replaced, it will continue to regenerate new dragon heads for the new CEO to cut off.

    Why O’ Why not eliminate the obvious problems and stop the spending of public funds for consultants and attorneys?

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Yoy Lord – Well said. No one has gotten to the heart of this situation better than you. Too bad reasonable minds have not prevailed, and common sense has been lost. You are correct. The Lycee Francais wound will keep festering for lack of proper care, and the heart and soul of LFNO will die due to improper diagnosis; all in the name of individuals who are fighting to preserve poor leadership, and are continuing the ruse of CEO finger pointing.