The committee charged with finding a new chief executive for the embattled Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle-Orleans charter school narrowed the pool of applicants from 30 to five Friday.

The three-member search committee, comprised of Nicole Boudreaux, Kelly McClure, and Carol Asher, met before a handful of parents Friday morning, including current board member Paige Saleun. Board member Dan Henderson was also present for some of the meeting.

After a half-hour executive session to discuss the applicants, the committee invited the public back into the room. Committee members each wrote the names of their favorite contenders on the chalkboard and briefly discussed their merits.  In the end, the committee approved a motion selecting five candidates to be interviewed.

The five candidates are:

  • Elizabeth Chaponot, head of school at Lycee International de Los Angeles, in Los Angeles
  • Benjamin Orillon, chief administrative officer at the Lycee in San Francisco
  • Theresa Picciano, assistant principal at Intermediate School 347 in New York City
  • Jammie Poole Jr., principal of Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields, Ill.
  • Mireille Rabate, assistant head and middle school principal at French American International School in San Francisco

After a tumultuous fall that included resignation of the school’s chief executive officer, a financial shortfall and controversial staff firings, state education Superintendent John White made consultant Jeremy Hunnewell available to Lycee and the selection committee was empaneled.

Earlier this year Hunnewell issued a report calling for both new administration and board leadership at the 340-student school.  The Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, a nonprofit, is financing his work.

In addition to choosing five candidates, the committee narrowed the list of qualifications and criteria and established a timeline for their work.

The committee wants to complete interviewing candidates before April 23.  In addition to the interview, candidates will complete a project designed by McClure, which they must submit by April 26.  The committee will have one week to review the projects and will likely meet May 3 to discuss which candidates will move to a second round of interviews.

At the beginning of the Friday meeting the committee questioned whether and how the board would allot funds to fly candidates to New Orleans and put them up in hotels.

“It shouldn’t slow us down today,” said Asher, while stressing that the decision required approval by the full board.

To save money, the committee agreed that the second round of interviews should be on May 6 or May 7, close enough to the tentative May 8 public interviews to allow for just one trip to New Orleans.

Reid said Hunnewell would contact applicants and begin setting up interviews and that those meetings would be publicly noticed.

The committee’s goal is to recommend its finalist slate to the full board by the May 13 board meeting.

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...