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Charges dropped against former Lycée teacher who was removed by police

Charges filed against a former teacher at Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school have been dropped.

Darleen Mipro pleaded not guilty to the charges of criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace on Dec. 3, days after her Nov. 30 firing in which she was escorted by police from the school’s Patton Street campus.

On Thursday, Nancy Colomb, deputy clerk in the Municipal Court clerk’s office, said the city attorney decided not to pursue the charges.

“They felt there wasn’t enough to go forward with the case,” she said.

Robert Harvey Sr., Mipro’s attorney, said that the charges of criminal trespassing and disturbing the peace were dismissed against his client during a Wednesday court hearing.

Mipro’s trial, originally set for Feb. 6 was pushed back to March 6 after the court failed to deliver subpoenas to several witnesses, an assistant in Harvey’s office said.

Colomb confirmed Thursday the case has been closed.

“She won,” said Harvey.

Ongoing, however, is Mipro’s defamation lawsuit.

In response to the eventful firing, which included the police escort as parents were collecting children from the school, Mipro filed a character defamation lawsuit against the school and two board members — chairman Jean Montes and member Paige Saleun.

In the complaint, Mipro claims she was held in the school by Montes and not allowed to collect her son or belongings for a period of time. The complaint also alleges school officials sent out an email to parents while Mipro was in the office stating she had been fired for “engaging in misconduct”.

Mipro’s lawsuit accuses school leaders of damaging her professional reputation.

Mipro began working at the school in August 2011 under founding chief executive Jill Otis, who resigned last April. She was chair of the English department and the school’s special education coordinator. Otis’ replacement, Jean-Jacques Grandiere resigned in November, about a week before Mipro was fired, leaving the school leaderless the day Mipro was fired.

Mirpo’s complaint states she was told by Julianne Ruocco, the school’s director of finance and operations, she was being fired for misconduct.  The complaint also states Montes was present at the school at that time, and later arrived in the room with Mipro.

In January, The Rebuilding Trust Working Group, a group of parents, called for Montes and Saleun to resign from the board, or at least recuse themselves until after the lawsuit had been resolved.

Montes and Saleun continue to serve on the school’s board.

On Thursday, however, a committee of Lycée’s board said it plans to recommend that all board members be required to reapply for their seats if they want to stay past June.

That plan is expected to go before the full board for a vote on Monday, at the school’s next regularly scheduled board meeting.

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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

    Darlene, you are fantastic. So sorry you had to go through this and experience such evil. So glad you have been exonerated. i know you know who I am and am so honored to know you. Thank you for being strong.

  • Darlene , justice was served and now the real fight has begun. I hope u persevere in your battle against the forces of evil who tried their best to harm your reputation and your sons psycolgical well being. Good Luck .

  • nickelndime

    Justice has not been served, but it is over as far as Darlene’s case is concerned. Yes, Darlene is a fine individual, but she is dealing with devious individuals who do not care about professional reputations other than their own. Lee C. Reid will make it so. Darlene will probably be offered reinstatement. You will soon see what Raphael Gang has said is true. It is like staring from zero – pressing the reset button. Is it not so?

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    It is hard to believe that someone who did the job of three was treated with such contempt and ill will as Darleen. When I heard the circumstances of her termination, I could only think that good deeds do get punished by individuals with questionable agendas, who discount the motivations of those who are struggling to achieve order in an environment of chaos. I wondered if the two individuals – the Board Chair and the CFO – who participated in the destructive manner in firing Darleen ever gave one thought to her son, the children that she taught, and the consequence of their actions to the school. Clearly, if they had, they would have conducted themselves more professionally, and found a more humane way to accomplish their goal. Instead they chose to carry out the most selfish, vial and vindictive means to cause great harm to Darleen, her son Jude, the children who tearfully said goodbye to their teacher, and then skillfully used her as an example to force the remaining teachers to toe their line. Then insult led to injury through denigrating her good name, and her professional reputation by conjuring up false charges to explain her termination to the parents. During the chaos that day, others were heard to say, “we” are smarter than you. What in the world could that have meant? I hesitate to say adults acting like children, as I know children who have better sense. In the end, LFNO children have lost a great teacher, one who cared a great deal for all the children that she served. To those of you who have spoken ill of her, I can only hope that you do not continue to trip over your perfection because you, as the rest of us, are far from perfect people. The result of this travail points out that some supported the viciousness of the school’s leadership, the majority sat back and did nothing, and the remainder tried to get a conversation going about problems that needed to be solved, and were vilified for doing so. As I reflect back upon this nightmare, Congress springs to mind. This mean-spiritedness has become a way of life in America today. I am so glad that I have only a short time left on this earth, as I am sickened by the uncivil and vicious nature of some who are my countrymen. We had none of this while I was growing up. People worked together to solve problems in a civilized manner, and actually cared about what other’s thought. Civility was our culture.

    LFNO will go on. However, the school that I envisioned is not to be. Even if or when current board members step down, there will be individuals remaining in school leadership positions who actively participated in the hate baiting, and they are not the role models that I had hoped for the children of Lycee Francais. However, the parents can count on the leadership they deserve, and I for one could care less now, given this regrettable, murky experience.

  • nickelndime

    It appears, Joy, and particularly as it relates to Darleen, that the greater the ability of the individual, the individual’s knowledge and intelligence, independence, compassion, and an unwillingness to tolerate unfairness, the more vicious the attack. For it seems that those in power must retain that power at all costs. Unfortunately, the Louisiana Department of Education and the State Superintendent of Education (Pastorek freely engaged in this type of behavior as well) are involved in such attacks and encourage this kind of behavior if it can pass legal muster. In the case of Lycee, the LDOE, White, Bendily, Gang, Roemer Shirley, Hunnewell, and Reid (Adams and Reese), et al. all agree that it is time to cut loose the board members who are interfering with “their” agenda of power and money (education is far behind). So, the board members who initially were depending on board attorney, Lee Reid, to defend their behavior will now find out how it feels to be on the outside looking in. Let us now see how these board members react and what they do (if they can do anything)because, remember, they were on the inside, and now White has told them not to come to the meeting he had with the faculty and staff at Lycee.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Correction in comment- meant to write selfish, vile, and vindictive means to accomplish their goal.

  • Nola

    It is such a shame that any of this was allowed to happen. I hope that the LDOE will attempt to make this right…and that the board members named in the suit will no longer be defended with public money. Those board members are clearly incapable of running a school. They do not understand kindness. With regard to the parents at LFNO who continued to make unkind and petty statements about Ms. Mipro..shame on you. You are poor examples for your children.