Live blog: Committee interviews candidates for Lycée Français board

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Update: The committee decided to recommend six candidates for the board: Alysson Mills, Erin Greenwald, Mary Jacobs Jones, Tim Gray, Elizabeth Rhodes and Ben Castoriano.

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school is undertaking the unusual process of completely rebuilding its board of directors in an effort to strengthen governance and leadership at the embattled school.

I am live-blogging each of the three nights of interviews — Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — with people who want to be on the charter school’s board. Each night’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. (The live blogs are posted below.) The committee aims to recommend candidates at the board’s April 8 meeting.

Though only in its second year, this tiny, 340-student French curriculum school has captured the attention of the state’s highest education leader, state Superintendent John White, who late last year asked the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools to step in and assist the school.

Now, Lycée’s board is moving forward with a blueprint of leadership change authored largely by a management consultant hired by the association with the board’s consent.

EMH Strategy’s Jeremy Hunnewell proposed that all five of the current members resign June 30 and reapply for the board’s seven to 11 seats. Two members must step in immediately, as the board’s current size is two shy of state requirements.

Last week, a committee of five people selected 15 applicants to interview. But even that process raised questions as some lawyers said it appeared to violate the state’s open meetings law. Prior to the meeting, Hunnewell ranked 31 applicants based on information he says he got from each of the nominating committee members through one-on-one conversations or emails.

With little discussion, the committee decided to interview the top 15 people on Hunnewell’s list.

Thursday night, the nominating committee will interview its final three applicants. After the interviews, members will publicly discuss the candidates and are expected to recommend a slate of candidates for full board consideration Monday.

The committee will identify then which candidates should serve one, two and three-year terms, as well as which two candidates are best suited to join the board next week.

At the first round of interviews Tuesday the committee asked that all parents hold questions and comments until a motion to approve a slate of candidates was on the table.

Thursday’s live blog

Thursday’s candidates:

  • Mary Jacobs Jones, project director at The New Teacher Project
  • Alysson Mills, attorney at Fishman Haygood Phelps Walmsley Willis & Swanson LLC
  • C. Kathleen Whalen, director of program and professional development at Partnership for Youth Development

Wednesday’s live blog

Wednesday’s candidates:

  • Mary Hines, learning commons coordinator and assistant professor at Loyola University’s J. Edgar and Louise S. Monroe Library
  • Tim Gray, attorney at Forman Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy LLP
  • Terry Christenson, associate professor at Tulane University
  • Malcolm McLetchie, self-employed tax consultant
  • Elizabeth Rhodes, assistant professor at Southeastern Louisiana University
  • L. Olivia Sweetnam, director of infection prevention and control at Ochsner Heath System

Tuesday’s live blog

Tuesday’s candidates:

  • Erin Greenwald, historian and curator at The Historic New Orleans Collection
  • Ben Castoriano, attorney at Frilot LLC
  • Kimberly Baptiste, accountant at Bruno & Tervalon LLP
  • Gypsye Bryan, executive director of school leadership and instruction for East Baton Rouge Parish schools
  • *Nolan Marshall III with the Downtown Development District and founder of Common Good

*Correction: Nolan Marshall III works for the Downtown Development District. He was formerly with the Cowen Institute. An earlier version of the this post did not include his most recent position.

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