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Lycée paid former CEO $10,000 after he resigned, documents show

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans paid former school chief Jean-Jacques Grandière $10,385 in salary for several weeks after he resigned from the public school last year, records show.

The payments were made without public board discussion or vote.

According to documents, Grandière emailed a three-sentence resignation letter to the board’s president and vice president on Nov. 21, stating he had decided to resign “for personal reasons.”

Two days later—his last day of work, according to Lycée’s “exiting employee checklist”—he and board President Jean Montes signed a nondisclosure agreement in which Grandière agreed not to “denigrate, divulge, furnish, make accessible … or sell” any confidential information involving the school for one year.

The details of Grandière’s post-resignation pay come two months after Lycée’s board received an audit citing the school for paying almost $30,000 to founding principal Jill Otis after she resigned, without the proper board authorization. That audit covered the period ending June 30.

Montes suggested last month that “a different decision likely should have been made” in that case. In the same media statement, school officials said Lycée would not seek reimbursement for the unauthorized use of public funds.

Yet, when explaining the school’s arrangement to pay Grandière over the course of six weeks following his resignation, Montes called the pay “fair.”

“Mr. Grandière 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,” the press release said.

The Lens tried to reach Grandière by phone to ask him how much work he did between Nov. 23 and Jan. 1, the last day for which he was paid, but the number had been disconnected.

Ten days after Grandière resigned, Montes announced that he had hired an interim replacement. On Dec. 10, the first board meeting after Grandière’s resignation, the board voted to “ratify” the decision to hire interim CEO Gisele Schexnider.

Lycée paid Grandière through Jan. 1, records show, just days after an auditor issued the report with the finding about Otis’ pay. Montes said in January that Grandière was also paid for two weeks of vacation, though The Lens was unable to determine that from the payroll records.

The school made available records involving Grandière’s pay following a series of public records requests filed by The Lens.

The Lens initially requested documents related to both Grandière and Otis’ severance pay, termination paperwork, nondisclosure agreements, and resignation letters on Jan. 25. An attorney for Adams and Reese, which is representing Lycée, responded on Jan. 30 without providing any documents.

Attorney Jaimme Collins stated there was no severance paperwork or nondisclosure agreement for Grandière or Otis. The law firm also claimed that termination paperwork was exempt from public records laws because it was part of the former CEOs’ personnel files.

However, the school’s Jan. 30 press release appeared to contradict Collins’ response when it revealed that Grandière had been paid for six weeks following his resignation. The Lens submitted another public records request.

This time, The Lens received a nondisclosure agreement, an exiting employee checklist and payroll records showing that Grandière was paid $10,385 in salary after he resigned.

Montes did not return an email from The Lens asking how the decision to pay Grandière had been made and by whom.

In a Feb. 5 e-mail, Montes told The Lens that Grandière never received a severance package, “at least as I understand the term with explanation from our legal counsel, which is pay and benefits an employee receives after he leaves employment.

“Here, Mr. Grandiere did not leave employment at the time of his resignation, as he continued to be available and assist with the transition for some time even though he stepped down from his role as General Director.”

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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.

  • frenchfriend

    Are we done yet with this group violating open meeting laws?

  • Let’s see a PHD and a attorney and neither one has knowledge of what a severance package is ? Umm!

  • nickelndime

    “…made without public board discussion or vote.” (as usual). Charter nonprofit boards, such as this one, make a lot of mistakes which costs the public a lot of public money. It’s like monopoly money to these people. For example, “…school officials said Lycée would not seek reimbursement for the unauthorized use of public funds.” Think about this: Adams and Reese LLP gets paid either way – damned if the board DO and damned if the board DON’T. As a matter of fact, the more damn mistakes the board makes, the more damn lucrative it becomes for the law firm. I believe that if every RSD/BESE/OPSB were investigated, such as is being done here, we would find THE LENS producing more articles of mismanagement, lack of administrative qualifications/credentials, misappropriation, irregularities (personnel, finance, testing…) and the like than it has reporters to cover the incidents. Next, I suggest that the charter boards that Adams and Reese attorneys represent (at least for the last 5 years) be scrutinized as carefully as this school. Go get ’em!

  • Nola

    I’m not sure why anyone would hire Adams and Reese after this. And yet they make, what was it 200-400 dollars per hour? Is Adams and Reese representing LFNO or just helping them lie.

  • nickelndime

    WISH LIST: (1) What law firms (and lead counsels) represent the BESE/OPSB charter boards in the New Orleans area? (2) What has it cost (the public)?

  • nickelndime

    Adams and Reese LLP represent other charter boards (besides this one) and other city-noteworthy nonprofit clients. Here are a few of the charter related groups: (1) Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools (12 or 13 OPSB charters are members) – Kathy Riedlinger, President (2) Algiers Charter School Association – ACSA (3) Moton (4) Einstein (5) New Orleans Charter Academy. And let us not forget that Adams and Reese (Pastorek’s former law firm = State connections/BESE/RSD) formed the nonprofit charter board that proposed the Type 2 charter, the New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy (NOMMA) – recently in THE LENS news for $31,000 spent fraudently by the business manager, for a nonprofit called “People of Substance.”

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Cannot help but say that all who continued to assassinate the character of the first CEO for completing her contract, and getting paid for advising and working with the second CEO is now vindicated, as the second CEO got paid for the same situation for a much shorter period of time. Is it the fault of both CEOs that the board chose not to openly discuss and vote on these issues at a LFNO board meeting? Isn’t it strange that the LFNO chair made excuses for the second CEO’s payment, but made it appear as if the first CEO did something questionable? Isn’t it also interesting that the audit reported the first CEO’s payment of funds stating that it was unauthorized, but did not mention the second which, by the auditing company’s standard, would have been unauthorized also. Why did the auditor’s report not speak to the second CEO’s payment of funds? Why would the auditors call the payments unauthorized? Because the board did not vote on these issues during a LFNO board meeting which is required by law for such expenditures.

    So John White contends Lycee Francais has a CEO problem and that is why Hunnewell was hired. I would say Mr. White that LFNO has a board problem, and that if the board were replaced, Hunnewell’s assistance would not be necessary. A competent board could find the best CEO for the school. Louisiana is in desperate need of a state superintendent of education who has the backbone and tenacity to address the problems occurring in charter schools with transparency and due diligence. Instead we have a superintendent who is skilled in behind the door deals, and the art of sinister cover-ups. His latest sin is the SDE website which was a parent/teacher user friendly tool until White decided that changes needed to be made due to all the complaints his office was receiving. After several requests through a PIR asking for a list of those complaints, the group requesting the PIR was sent a lengthy list of complaints in regard to Mr. White’s new SDE website which is now user unfriendly. Finally after another PIR request, the group was issued a statement indicating that there were no complaints found in regard to the old website. Just who can anyone trust in this state? Certainly not John White.

    To those parents who are angry because I question the motivations of White, Roemer Shirley, and Hunnewell, why should I trust the recently released Hunnewell report? It does not speak to the underlying cause of the chaotic environment found at LFNO. It is a superficial report that satisfies the state education boss’ theory, but does not lend credence to the cause of dysfunction at Lycee Francais. Yes, the report speaks to the need for new board members, but that should have been the immediate focus, and new board members should already be in place, and board members who caused this turmoil should be gone. Instead the powers that be are engaging in foot dragging relative to the current board. What message does that send to the teachers and concerned parents? Mr. Hunnewell and Ms. Shirley tell me how a charter school gets rid of dysfunctional board members? Aren’t you the experts? How about doing your job to save LFNO?

  • nickelndime

    It is because Adams and Reese LLP represents the Board that the State/BESE has not called for the removal of the Lycee Board. And yes, it is that dirty!

  • nickelndime

    Common denominator: Lee C. Reid of Adams and Reese LLP. Jaime Collins’ name may have appeared recently, but Reid’s the one (whose name no longer appears) and he’s the one getting paid those $400.00 per hr. billable hours. White, Dobard, Roemer Shirley, Hunnewell…actually, there is no one at the State level you can trust. But, if I had to put my money on any character at all, I would say Erin Bendily – Office of Parental Options. Joy, I like your style. Keep on posting!

  • frenchfriend

    Erin Bendaly is directly responsible for the condition this school finds itself in today. Erin Bendaly, Mike Higgens and Raphael Gang. Do a records requests and see how many complaints about this current board, the addition of the second grade and the misappropriation of funding have come into their office and their responses. The three of them swept all of this under the table and brushed the complaints off as petty, frivilous andthe fear of competition. Raphael Gang has outwardly lied to the BESE board publically saying that this school did not have a problem with turnover, outreach, working with mcmillian, should we go on? Raphel Gang has proctected this board for two years and continues to do so, being part of the newly formed governance committee. Why else are the THREE board members that cause all the trouble, not gone ( wake up LFNO, it is three board members not two). Erin Bendaly, Mike Higgens and Raphael Gang watched it happen.

  • Mike Higgins

    Normally, I don’t respond to online commentary, but seeing as my reputation is being attacked, I feel I should jump in. Frenchfriend, there are numerous mistakes in your post (including the fact that you misspelled my name, and Ms. Bendily’s name). The Office of Parental Options has been known as the Office of School Choice for nearly a year. Ms. Bendily transitioned to another role within the Department nearly a year ago. I haven’t been employed by the LDE since last year, but while I was there, I personally didn’t have any role whatsoever with LFNO (as evidenced by one frequent commenter’s FOIA requests for my e-mails). I do know that Mr. Gang has received and responded to complaints, though I have no idea how many, the nature of those complaints, or how they were resolved. I have no idea what you’re talking about when you claim that Mr. Gang lied to BESE; the minutes of every BESE meeting are available online, and if you’re going to anonymously make accusations about people, you should at least provide some shred of evidence to support those accusations. Please point us to the minutes where this supposedly happened. I’m not going to get involved in a back-and-forth argument on these pages about the school or the LDE, and again, only jumped in because you are making false accusations about me. But in the future, if you do want to criticize me or make baseless accusations about me, I’d ask that you do it as an adult, by picking up the phone and calling me to discuss it, rather than by posting anonymous commentary. You can find my contact information through the Louisiana Bar Association’s website,

  • Mike Higgins

    Note: The above comment was edited for simplification purposes.

  • To the current board members. Just go awaaaaaaaaay !!!!!!!

  • Yoy Lord

    Why ‘O Why do some have eyes but cannot see? The gains must be enormous for so many to
    continue to support/defend the mismanagement and corruption at Lycee. Perhaps, the hole they dug is so deep that
    they have no choice but to continue to deceive and hide the truth.

    Listen to the spin that the consultant offers after a recent
    meeting: “We shared the progress that
    has been made on all the items identified in my report, including the CEO
    search and governance committee. This
    led into a discussion of the vision for the future of LFNO, which the teacher
    found compelling.” I question whether
    they were compelled to accept or reject what they heard.

    Things are not getting better. They continue to get worse. So bad that even high paid attorneys cannot
    fix them. The attorneys can’t even help
    the board avoid falling deeper into the hole it has created. Each day brings reports of new gross
    negligence, mismanagement and lies to hide the truth. Why do they continue to spend public funds to
    conceal the problems when there is need for more severe actions? Will CODOFIL be the next ones to close their
    eyes and fall prey to the empty promises and lack of action by everyone who has
    a stake in the management and oversight of Lycee? Which way will they be compelled?

    Why ‘O Why is there no end to the abuse?

  • frenchfriend

    Why ‘o why, because politicians have their kids at this school. That will come out shortly too. The door is about to blow open.

  • nickelndime

    Hi frenchfriend, Perhaps I have been deceived by Erin Bendily (it certainly appears that you have more information than I, and I have not heard of Mike Higgins, however, it appears that he has replied to you below. Well, you certainly got Mike Higgins’ attention – I will give you that (tongue in cheek)! For the record, I definitely do not trust Raphael Gang, Roemer Shirley, Hunnewell, and any-and-all Adams and Reese attorneys! BTW, I like the fact that Mike Higgins jumped in. I will give him a high 5 on that. High 5 to the both of you!

  • frenchfriend

    Thanks,!!! .

  • Captain Tripps

    Montes and A&R mistakenly thought that their Sith Mind-Trick would work on Marta. “There is no paperwork.” . Unfortunately for them, that is only effective on the weak-minded.

  • Nola

    What do you mean?…I thought you could just say something didn’t happen enough times and eventually everyone will believe nothing actually happened! Isn’t that the master plan? I can’t figure out why it won’t work anymore. I guess the tactic has been overused… Adams and Reese will have to come up with a new tactic. Hush money seems to be an option that is also frowned upon…what to do, what to do?