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Selection committee narrows roster of Lycee CEO candidates to five finalists

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.

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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

    These applicants look great, but my question is how is this school going to pay for such an individual? Where is it in the budget? Doesn’t the public have a right to know what the incentive package is for this position and from where it is coming? The lycee already has an Academic director, three buildings with very high, rent and a preschool program that does not pay for itself. The public has also never seen the amount of money this school has been paying the law firm that is running their meetings and current defamation lawsuit ( it was mentioned in an article that that could be as high as 200-400 and hour). My question to Marta is: Where is the money coming from and are they receiving extra funds from the state to cover this CEO that other public schools are not privy too and struggling for, as well? Wouldn’t many RSD schools like extra help to find the best CEO too? If there is extra money to hire for one school, who not send the same amount to all the others that are also struggling?
    The big question is: Is Shirley-Roemer going to grant them extra money for this CEO? It would have to be a ton for these people to leave good jobs in California and move their families here, find housing ( jim Mcphaille are you helping or donating that ?). What if some of these applicants have older children. Will the school or consultants help get them into top Public high schools ( by pulling strings ) or help pay for a New Orleans private high school that the children of some of the French applicants are currently used to attending?
    The La charter schools association claimed this would be the first of many schools they helped with grant money. Where are the other schools receiving such services? It is has been six months and are no other schools in the state are getting this kind of help? Why only this one? Can this school survive without the extra money being tossed to them ( and what a risk, because the money will have to come from somewhere and when the grant money goes away and they are banking on MFP numbers) My other question to Marta: If other struggling schools were tossed the same amount of money and help, would they have made it too and or be thriving? Shame on the LA charter association and BESE, there are so many schools that need help, not just one!!!! Help one, Help them all.
    Nicklendime, would love you perspective.

  • Nola

    I too would like to know where all of the money is coming from. It seems like a huge risk for someone to move across country for this job. I assume the compensation package and where the money is coming from will be public knowledge. If the school cannot compensate this individual in its will it keep the individual when the grant money and the board financial support is gone? Is this not a huge risk also for the families attending the school should the budget fall apart again? I am impressed with the candidate choices, but am disappointed and dismayed at the fact that only one appears to be coming from a public school. This looks like further effort to keep this school a public private school. How is an administrator from a private school in San Francisco or Los Angeles going to understand the need for cultural diversity and out reach that is necessary to make this a successful NEW ORLEANS PUBLIC school? Candidates for the job should be asked to visit other public schools in New Orleans (and not just Lusher) in order to grasp the problem with lycee’s current demographic.

  • nickelndime

    WOW! frenchfriend, your comments and Nola’s are inspirational, to say the least. I have to look at this very carefully, but this info jumped off the page for me:
    “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.” Exactly, what is going on here???

  • nickelndime

    There is so much wrong here, I am not quite sure where (or how) to begin. And, what is this? “…candidates will complete a project designed by McClure, which they must submit by April 26.” Reminds me of the rubrics/portfolios that certain selective-admissions schools use to weed out unsuspecting naive applicants. Are any instruments being administered (intelligence, personality…)? Seriously!

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Three applicants have a knowledge of the French National Curriculum. Two do not. They all are from out of state. Not one candidate has knowledge of state education policy, state law, etc. The one selected would have to lean on the Director of Academics for that knowledge. The Director of Academics does not have a grasp of the French National Curriculum, and certainly not state law, education policy, special ed, etc. How could she assist the two candidates that have no knowledge of the aforementioned? Teachers, staff, and parents would have to be very patient while the new CEO learns on the job. With a board that is top heavy with attorneys, and has no expertise in K-12 education this suggests a recipe for disaster. Although a University professor is on the board, she may not sufficient expertise with K-12 education. Does anyone in the leadership role of driving this process have any common sense?

  • frenchfriend

    Please Nickelndime, please Marta, Please anyone, try to find out, This does not pass the smell test.. This white demographic school gets extra help from the state that is unprecedented. many other schools could use extra money and help from the state too. I am not saying they should not have help, but not exclusively. Carolyn Roemer-Shirley stated that this would be the first of many schools that would get help. Do you see any other getting help? NO WAY, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Lycee never publishes a budget, Lycee not disclose from where the money for this current CEO is coming . Lycee does not even publish what they will pay the next CEO. Lycee has NO testing scores to even prove that they are academically sound ( which Shirley and Gang tout with NO PROOF) I ask again, Why only this school?
    This school never shows a budget at their board meetings. The question has come up numerous times about how the school is paying their attorney’s fees ( what is the amount I ask too, you see reid at every meeting plus the defamation suit again this school’s board) This school has no reserve, as far, anyone around here can tell. Where is the money for all of this? They already pay for an academic director who will stay next ( unless new CEO fires that person) but, how are they going to pay for this grand new CEO??? Are they being given a Special gift with our tax money? Lycee has no idea how many kids are really leaving next year because of the mess the old board has caused ( and many are leaving) They did not have enough applicants to even lottery kindergarten on up!!! Where is the money coming from? Shirley- roemer’s group? Cameron Henry’s kids do go this school so maybe he pulled some strings. It is a bombshell and the elephant in the room. Also WHY ONLY THIS SCHOOL? why not all schools? help one help them all. Help pay for one CEO, help pay for ALL. This is Discrimination at is worst on all levels.

  • ET

    flying in candidates for two sessions is DUMB. these consultants must have by now heard of Skype or similar electronic video!! Hope they’re reading this!
    what the board needs right away is an advisory committee to catch them up to speed quickly.
    GET PEOPLE FAMILIAR with the past board, some with knowledge of the relationship with the state, some with governance experience in louisiana’s pblic schools, and so on.

  • Nola

    This is what concerns me. Isn’t the job of the academic director to drive the curriculum and the CEO’s job to run the school? I understand that the current academic director is not qualified to run the school with the French Curriculum. But, there is no one who knows Louisiana public schools. Flying in candidates? What? This is a PUBLIC school, not an elite private school. Why are no local candidates being considered? Are they serious? The tax payers are flying in candidates for interviews? This gets more and more odd as time passes.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Nola – Certain board members, and parents, as well, are content with the lack of diversity at LFNO. Diversity is not on their priority list. Consider this scenario in regard to school ranking and testing. The fewer at-risk children the better the school’s chance to be at the top of the school heap with the likes of Lusher. No risk there. However, Lusher is diverse. Then Lycee beats its drum that it is a school of excellence. Really? What school wouldn’t be given LFNO’s enrollment? Second, I am wondering if some parents do not want their children to intermingle with poor kids? That is a disturbing thought, but without the leadership actually working at creating diversity, how many at-risk student’s parents would apply to LFNO? Perhaps clever parents saw the handwriting on that wall when they enrolled their children in Lycee Francais. I hope that is not the case, but who knows? It is abundantly clear that no effort has been made to ensure diversity at this school. That angers me, but I have learned that there are some very shallow leaders and parents involved in this school. It is outrageous that the LDOE continues to ignore the charter school law in regard to the city’s at-risk population percentage, particularly at LFNO, and continues to endow the school with finances and assistance. Wow! I would think that this situation would create a city charter school revolution against Jindal, White, and BESE. Guess the other charter schools’ leadership have no chutzpah, and it seems they could care less.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Contact the State Legislative Auditor’s office. As a taxpayer, you have the right to an accounting of public monies that are spent by this school, and any other. All concerned individuals should do likewise. The more people inquiring about Lycee’s budget, the more accountability. As far as the LA Charter School Assoc. is concerned, the leadership is content to make promises and ignore them. I do not believe that integrity and transparency play a key role within this organization’s leadership. Its goal is to protect and preserve charter schools at any cost. I wonder from whom it received grant money to fund the Top Drawer fiasco, and if that provider has been holding LCSA accountable for its spending practices? Perhaps the grant is earmarked for resolving problems at elite charter schools, and not for ones that are struggling to educate children from impoverished backgrounds – . as those schools would certainly not require assistance. That would be a new twist, but it is conceivable, given the lack of sound decision making, integrity, transparency and accountability associated with the charter school movement.

  • Yoy lord

    Why O’ Why does the farce that is Lycée continue? Is there an agency in the state or country with the courage to investigate this school? Is the entity running this school so powerful that no one dare open an investigation? Show me that the use of public funds is legal and not discriminatory. Show me that state and federal laws have not been broken. Give me an accounting. PLEASE!

  • nickelndime

    Every point which has been raised here by frenchfriend, Joy, Nola, ET, and Yoy is valid. Adams and Reese LLP has its own Type 2 charter school (NOMMA). It doesn’t get any closer (with the State) than that. These guys (Roemer Shirley, Hunnewell, Reid of Adams and Reese, White, Bendily) are all under the same cover in the same bed. I suspect that everything (nominating committee, CEO selection committee, etc.) is tainted.This group is worse than “roommates” (which allegedely was the reason one of the slate candidiates was eliminated). This is crooked. This is rotten. This is illegal. This is unethical. This is dishonest. USDOE (federal funds) are being misused, misspent, and misappropriated, and it reminds me of racketeering, which is what the group in the testing snafu is being charged with. The LLA will not do it. Nothing in this state will do “it.” It’s got to be federal. This is big, but it is the tip of iceberg when it comes to corruption in this state and in this city.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    There are significant issues that have not been addressed in the Top Drawer process. A common sense example – Lusher. Look at the CEO there. She was a traditional public school principal for decades. She, along with her teachers decided that a charter was in order for their school. The principal and teachers wrote the charter. It is an outstanding example of a good charter application, and the charter continues to change based upon its students’ needs. That is what charters are supposed to do. The Lusher Charter Board was an important consideration in the process. Most board members were teachers or had experience in K-12 education. Lusher currently has nine board members most of which I believe have K-12 education experience. Lusher Charter School is not a perfect entity, but it is providing a quality education for its diverse student body, and considered a school of excellence. What is wrong with that model? However, Roemer Shirley, Gang, White, Reid, Hunnewell, and most BESE members believe that anyone can be a CEO, even someone that does not have public education experience or experience with public schools in Louisiana. The Lusher support system is not in place at LFNO. Even though LFNO will have new board members, I am not sure that those selected or the current administrative leadership have the experience to assist the new CEO in his or her on the job training. (I know the current board members do not.) Yes, they can supply emotional support, but cannot supply the necessary foundational support to get the CEO up to snuff. The board, along with the current administration, have no institutional knowledge to guide any new CEO. That was not the case with Lusher. Some may not agree, but I for one believe that the Lusher CEO and her board members have created a successful school due to their institutional public school knowledge. Lusher is a good model for charter schools, even with its warts. Why must we continue to ignore success to reinvent the wheel?

  • frenchfriend

    Lusher was also started , in good faith , without ulterior motives to harm other schools and create an exclusive public school. The second Lfno charter that you wrote, in good faith , is great and it would be wonderful if it was just followed. The school would not be in this kind of trouble if they had just followed the charter and opened a true public school with true outreach. It is very sad that the board members chose not to follow it and act so horribly. Joyous you have been the champion of many and for many months you have tried to get those to honor and bring integrity back to this school. The charter is not adhered to, so there is nothing. All the special interest money in the world is not going to change the core of what destroying this school. All of the coverups and all the other problems stated in the above comments are just masking the true problem. The school needs to act like,look like and make a true effort to serve All kids period and make a difference

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    frenchfriend – I agree with your assessment in regard to Lusher and its exclusivity. I disagree with excluding children for whatever reason. I hope that I am perceived as a child advocate for I strive to be. However, I mention Lusher as a model for charter schools because its’ governance structure is functioning well. That is due to its leadership’s institutional knowledge. I was not clear. However, Lusher has a diverse student body, and Lycee Francais does not. Our mission as charter writers for LFNO was to ensure that every child in New Orleans would have the opportunity to receive a top notch French education. That intent has been ignored and the spirit of the charter has been lost. There is another way to ensure all children’s participation in the school but the new leadership will hopefully have its ideas to accomplish that goal if they believe it is an important part of their mission.

    Some have not understood my stubbornness in trying to resolve the governance issues at Lycee Francais. I, along with others who worked diligently on the charter application were committed to creating a good school open to all children. I, unfortunately, felt responsible for being involved in creating the hellish situation that evolved. I believed my participation set this cabal in motion. I have attempted to right the wrong because I felt accountable. Some parents have vehemently disagreed with my assessment and motivation, however, it was never about them and their support of a dysfunctional board, but about the children. I am sorry that they would not join me and others that were on the children’s side of this issue. I feel strongly about the children attending this school. Any one of them could be my grandchild. I was determined not to sit idly by, and watch. I do not know if my mission was accomplished. Only time will tell.

  • frenchfriend

    It is quite obvious you are exposing everything wrong about the lycee because you want a diverse and honorable school. You do this as an educator. Teachers are the real heros and want a real schoo,l that is for all kids and what the lycee should be. Its diversity numbers should mirror the state and have a mission to get some lost kids out of their current failing situations. Charters were not started for school choice, but to help the kids being lost. They don’t have these kids at Lycee. It is too bad the charter was highjacked by non educators with a mission to destroy and not look back. The bulldog mentality has no use in education. It is a core issue of everything that is and has gone wrong so far and why this school was exposed in the first place. BESE ignored the complaints for a year. The New Orleans tribune broke stories about the problems a year before the lens. When the past Principals and teachers saw all the wrong doings and the real mission of the school, everything escalated. Codifil had to step in and then The parents caught on. BESE , John White , Raphael Gang, Erin Bendily, James Garvey, and the lawyers and politician kids that are currently at the lycee were aware of everything the whole time and ignored the problem.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Thank you for your determination in providing an outstanding French education for the students attending Lycee Francais. No one could have asked more of you. Your commitment went beyond your call of duty, and your resilience stellar. Those of us who participated in writing the charter had hoped for a faculty such as you. There is not a day that goes by that I do not reflect upon your love for the Lycee Francais children, for you had to be about the children or many of you would have packed your bags and left long ago. I am grateful that you continued to serve in spite of very troubling times. To those of you who have decided to leave I wish you the very best in your endeavors, and wish for you a very productive, and happy life. I wanted to take the time to thank all of you now so that you would know that I, along with many others appreciate you as educators, and the outstanding people that you are.

    Frenchfriend, nola, nickelndime and many others – I want to thank you for expressing your opinions in regard to LFNO. It is apparent that you are interested in ensuring that Lycee Francais becomes the school of excellence that all had hoped it would be. Your important dialogue has caused many of us to stop and reflect upon solutions to the problems the school has been facing. Without the identification of critical problems that have impeded the progress of this school, LFNO would not have survived. It is my hope that all involved with the school will unite and engage in open dialogue in problem solving to ensure the school’s future success.

  • nickelndime

    I am particularly well versed in what charter school law says (“at-risk,” etc.), but my concerns focus on what is happening at the State level, particularly how grant money is being steered between the LDOE and certain nonprofits, such as New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) to create more charter schools and “help” particular nonprofits become “operators” (CMOs). This appears to be money-driven, rather than “classroom,” or “academically,” driven. In the case of Lycee, it appears that the State is being overly zealous and extremist (not transparent). I was not familiar with the particular demographics of Lycee (BESE Type 2 charter), but it does appear that Lusher and the other selective-admissions schools (all Type 3 conversion OPSB charters) are remiss in what they should be doing with public money. It seems to me that if the OPSB had been “on the ball” and not “on the take,” it would have reopened Lusher, Audubon, and Hynes in a timely manner as direct-run schools after Katrina, rather than letting them re-open as Type 3 conversion charter schools, because these particular schools are not increasing their at-risk population. No matter what these charter boards say in their defense, I also do not see why CEOs, such as Riedlinger (quarter of a million), have 6-figure salaries (going back to 2009 when The T-P posted administrative salaries). As Sally Roberts has indicated, with regard to demographic and at-risk (free/reduced lunch) percentages, the direction that some of the more established charter schools are moving, appears to be opposite of what the law says charter schools are supposed to do for at-risk children (let them in the school). With regard to the State’s handling of the Lycee dilemma, Lee Reid (of Adams and Reese, LLP) will actually run Lycee through the CEO (because as one of the commenters indicated, the CEO will lack institutional and state knowledge). The newly-seated board will lack “everything” and will be all too willing to listen to Reid (who, after the lights go out, will have a lot of billable hous to collect on). Just not now.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Sally – thank you for your comments, and your explanation of the difference between diversity and at-risk concepts. Having been an educator for 30 years, 18 of those years serving in the legislature representing a teacher union, and attending Legislative Education Committee meetings, I do know the difference between the categories of at-risk and diverse. They are not interchangeable as the at-risk designation is attached to revenues, diversity is not. I am going to respond to your points.

    Audubon – its at-risk stats have not achieved the required percentage in the law. I suppose that is because the French program has strict entrance requirements which makes it more difficult for at-risk students to be accepted. I am not in favor of entrance requirements, and you should know that there are none in the LFNO charter. I believe that raising the issue of a predominately African American student body in the Montessori School, and a predominately Caucasian student body in the French school is a bogus issue. Their overall student body represents diversity – 62-38. Are you faulting the school because the larger number is African American and not Caucasian? Why would you say that the breakdown in each program would be an “eye opener?” Yes, one is predominately black, and one predominately white, but the school has achieved diversity. Create a plan to provide more balance taking into consideration that one program has entrance requirement. Audubon, Lusher, and Lycee should be held accountable for their low at-risk numbers. Both, excluding Lycee, have entrance requirements and traditional public schools are prohibited from rejecting any students. No – charters and traditional public schools are not on the same playing field. Most charters can utilize entrance requirements after the third year of operation. LFNO has been trying to gain entrance requirements since its inception, but have been denied. At the end of next school year, it will achieve that status.

    Lusher – Chartered prior to Katrina, and was permitted to have entrance requirements. That deprives many at-risk students of a Lusher education. Entrance requirements are written into its charter. Lusher has achieved diversity – 52-48. Lycee 85-15. Lycee is far from diversity.

    LFNO’s at-risk status – your stats state 40%, but Gang and Montes told BESE members that percentage was 50. I was there. Which is it 40 or 50? I know the accurate percentage is more in the low to mid 20’s. The didacted copies of free and reduced lunch applications have been requested at least three times, and the leadership refuses to release those apps. That raises significant questions. The state does not request substantiation for the figures released by the school in regard to at-risk students. I believe that percentage has been manipulated to soften the blow of the elitist school that LFNO is. Elite, in its lack of diversity, and elite, with low at-risk numbers. It is easier to detect the lack of diversity, than it is to know how many at-risk students actually attend the school. That knowledge depends upon the integrity of the staff member to report an accurate number. I believe that you know that. Unfortunately neither the Feds nor the state require schools to verify those numbers so it is easy to fudge that number. Another problem with free/reduced lunch apps is that some people do not report their accurate annual income. The Feds do not require Income Tax returns to justify the income identified on those apps, neither does the state. So some people lie about their income, and therefore deprive impoverished students with more resources – not to mention cheating taxpayers.

    You contend Orleans Parish/RSD Public Schools are not diverse. Given more than half are traditional public schools, not charters, located in residential neighborhoods, and some traditional publics have been flipped into charters in RSD. I would suggest that you raise another bogus issue. Perhaps you can come up with a plan to integrate those neighborhoods. Would you suggest busing to achieve that diversity? Neighborhood is the key factor here. Lycee can draw on all neighborhoods in the greater New Orleans area, including Jefferson, St. John, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Plaquemines Parishes for it is a state adopted charter. With all that territory, diversity, and recruiting at-risk children should be a given, and easy to accomplish if there is an effort put forward.

    Finally, Mcmillan. I initiated that partnership. I dropped by the center unannounced and met with the Mcmillans. I toured the school. Each classroom had precious children in cute uniforms that were engaged in learning. No chaos, quietly engaged in learning. I went into most of the classrooms. I was really impressed with the center’s level of focus on learning, and achievement. I spoke with the Mcmillans at length explaining that we were not chartered, and I did not know if the school would be. We spoke about the partnership. They were told that we would supply a part-time French teacher for their one and two year old classes, only if the grant that we would write was funded. I wrote the school’s budget. I knew our financial constraints. We could not afford to hire a part-time teacher for them, thus the grant. They were excited about the partnership, and so was I. An official from LFNO attended and participated in a parent night at the center, and reported that the parents were elated, and enthusiastic about the partnership. I stepped down from the board after the school was chartered due my inability to get a fellow board member, who was out of control, and creating problems for our board, to modify her behavior. She never has.

    What I know – The responsibility of the Outreach program was removed from the first CEO and given to Sweet Olive when the board hired the duo in October. Several teachers kept asking for the Outreach book/information from them to determine if the partnership was moving forward and if any recruitment of at-risk children was occurring. Each time the teachers were put off. Actually nothing happened, and Sweet Olive reps did not write the grant, nor did they touch base with the Mcmillans, and dropped the ball. Had I been on the board, they would have never been hired. No contract was signed with Mcmillan BECAUSE WE WERE NOT CHARTERED – did not know if it would be, and had not written and submitted a grant for a phantom school. Perhaps Sweet Olive knows how to achieve that feat without an actual school, so I may be found wanting.

    We met with the French Consulate to get the Consul’s support for the second charter application. Initially, he was reluctant to support the effort. We discussed our plan for tutoring, and summer camp for children who were at-risk, and struggling with learning French. We highlighted our proposed partnership with McMillan, and those three concepts sealed the deal for his support. I doubt that we would have been chartered without his support. When defending our charter with our NACSA team, the Mcmillan partnership was a significant reason for them supporting our charter, and recommending its adoption to BESE. At-risk recruitment was significantly repeated throughout our question and answer period with them. The first charter application was denied for three significant reasons – no Outreach, the perception that angry parents wanted to start a new school to get back at Audubon, and that the charter was weak, at best, and failed to meet almost every standard on the NACSA rubric. So, at least to NACSA – charters are significant in the creation and operation of a school. Too bad the current board, and others have yet to read it.

    As to your final question, PERHAPS IF YOU HAD READ THE CHARTER, YOU WOULD HAVE FOUND THE LANGUAGE THAT SET UP THE PARTNERSHIP WITH FIRST STEPS. READ THE CHARTER SALLY OR IS IT MARY? If you had written the grant, the program would have been identified, and the part-time teacher employed. I was not hired through a sweet deal to write the grant and identify the program, you were. Never endeavor to take me on about this issue because I am furious about it. Due to your ineptitude the Mcmillans, parents from the Mcmillan community, organizations, news media, and other charter school leadership that believe we used Mcmillan to acquire our charter. My integrity and other’s have been called to question due to your incompetency. You know the story, and please stop trying to cover up your failure to act. You owe some of us an apology, but that will not be forthcoming, as you will never own up to your culpability. READ THE CHARTER MARY. It might assist you with your continued job responsibilities. How about trying to atone for your misstep, and set up a rigorous Outreach program including Mcmillan. THE END.

  • ET

    t seems that this is not an appropriate venue for verbal cat fights. please take your silly back-and-forth private. there is nothng you are contributing to the community.

    Further, we all should be discussing the future; how to help the new board and CEO/Principal become the effective and succesfull people we hope for.


  • Nola

    Sally .. This is just a thought. Maybe if LFNO had not chosen to add so many unfunded, private pre-k classes which were supported by public funds, there would have been money for a teacher to go to Macmillan’s. I estimate about 4k per child was covered by start up funding earmarked for the public kindergarten. I can’t recall how many pre-k classes there were the first year. 1 class removed would have provided 18 x 4k which is 72k. Seems like a part time teacher would have been affordable given LFNO would have eliminated overhead.

  • Meliss Conrad

    Ms. Van Buskirk, You seem to be a person who is a very experienced educator and really has your finger on the pulse of education in New Orleans so I was surprised to read some of the comments you have made regarding the school system in New Orleans. You stated: “Given more than half are traditional public schools, not charters, located in residential neighborhoods, and some traditional publics have been flipped into charters in RSD.” This is incorrect. According to the New Orleans Parent Guide, RSD operates only 4 “traditional” Public Schools and oversees over 50 CHARTER SCHOOLS. OPSB operates only 5 “traditional” schools and oversees 15 CHARTERS. The “playing field” in this city is Charter Schools. Charters dominate this city–maybe they are the new “traditional” school.

    Another statement you made regarding Audubon Charter school was the following: “I believe that raising the issue of a predominately African American student body in the Montessori School, and a predominately Caucasian student body in the French school is a bogus issue. Their overall student body represents diversity – 62-38.” I happen to think it is a huge issue. As an Audubon parent I have always wondered why there is such a racial divide. Why doesn’t Audubon do a better job at creating “diversity” in their French program? Have they done any outreach? I have always felt like Audubon has two different schools being housed in the same building. There is -sorry to say-little interaction between the programs and that is unfortunate.

    You also made this statement: “Lycee can draw on all neighborhoods in the greater New Orleans area, including Jefferson, St. John, St. Bernard, St. Charles and Plaquemines Parishes for it is a state adopted charter.” I emailed the school’s admissions department and was told that they serve 8 PARISHES-that’s impressive for such a young school.

    One statement really caught my attention. You wrote: “I stepped down from the board after the school was chartered due my inability to get a fellow board member, who was out of control, and
    creating problems for our board, to modify her behavior.” WHY DIDN’T YOU STAY and fight the fight for what you believe in? Instead you choose to rant on this forum. Why do you so publicly fault Lycee for it’s downfalls? You could have helped prevent them. The school is 2 years old for gosh sake and I think they are trying to do better. You could have stayed and fought the battle but you chose to retreat. I hear the school is still accepting applications for Board members- know anyone who might be willing to serve?

    I will continue to keep my eye on the happenings of Lycee because I hope to send my child there in the future and therefore hope for the success of the school. Maybe someday I can put my efforts into having the only and best Public Lycee in this country.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Melissa – First, I take issue with your statement that I choose to rant on this forum instead of staying and fighting the good fight. If I, along with others did not rant on this or any other forum, Lycee Francais would continue to be on the path of self destruction. That I, and others, stepped up to ensure that the difficult questions would be asked, and answered, and that we would have to endure the slings and arrows of others, suggests that we were fighting the good fight, but perhaps not in the way you pictured that we should. As far as remaining on the board, after fighting the good fight to rally my colleagues to my position that a colleague should step down, enough was enough. I stepped off the board, only to return when the LFNO board chair was hospitalized. I continued to fight the good fight to no avail, unable to convince my colleagues to my point of view. Today, some are very sorry that they did not listen, but that is water over the dam. I refused to remain, as I have the good sense to extricate myself from the presence of an individual who was mean-spirited, destructive and vengeful. Pardon that consideration, but I find it hard to stay on the straight and narrow path, and she threatened that objective. Perhaps you enjoy being around such people, and feel comfortable in their midst, but I draw the line.

    You are right about the OPPS and RSD numbers. i should have been careful about my lack of specificity. So good of you to look up the stats for me. I stand corrected. Most RSD traditional schools have been flipped by former supts. into charters. They then walked away, stating that the schools were fixed. Not true. They were traditional neighborhood schools. And you may be right, they may have become the new traditional schools. I believe that most OPPS’ charters have entrance requirements, and that prevents some at-risk children from enrollment. I say some because I do not know the percentage. All, I believe are city wide enrollment. I should not have engaged in debating the diversity in NO public traditionals/charters. You and Sally seem to agree that it is okay for LFNO not be diverse, since the other schools are not. I disagree. The LFNO charter was written with diversity in mind. You did not participate in writing the charter, neither did Sally, and neither of you are privy to its intent. It is clear that you and others do not care about diversity, so it is futile to continue that conversation. I do care. Someday I will be held accountable for what I believe, and I am hopeful that I will be on the right side of that argument. I believe I am. I genuinely care about all children, not just yours, and others who refuse to accept the fact that school diversity is right. Just because other schools are not diverse does not make it right. I reject racism. The charter was written to create a diverse student body – 85-15 is far from diverse, but I fear that you and others like LFNO’s elite status. As far as your statement that children are enrolled in LFNO from 8 different parishes, please show me the applications. Numbers have been thrown around by the school’s leadership that are subject to question, such as at-risk numbers. There have been several requests to get those didacted apps to determine just what the at-risk population is at the school. They have not be released which leads me to question your parish numbers to. Show me the apps. Otherwise this is a non-issue.

    Audubon – Since I know nothing about the program division at Audubon,The school is diverse. I have one question to ask. If this is such a significant problem for you, a parent with a child there, what are you doing about it? Why aren’t you fighting the good fight? If you believe that the school is not sufficiently diversified by program, what are you doing about it? The Montessori program has open enrollment. The French does not, but has an entrance exam. Have you gone to the PTO demanding that the school create an Outreach program both for the French and Montessori schools? Have you been fighting the good fight in that regard? Have you created a parent group that will demand program diversification? Or, are you just waiting to jump ship from Audubon, and enroll your children at LFNO?

    LFNO was chartered based upon its Outreach and tutoring programs, along with a meritorious charter application. We worked hard to respond to every failing of the first submission. Outreach was missing. NACSA wanted to ensure that every charter school it recommended for adoption was open to all children, and that our charter have a defined process for enrolling at-risk children. I took that requirement very seriously. it is too bad that the LFNO leadership, the parents, and people like you do not, but your names are not attached to the charter, are they?

    In closing, i caught the sarcastic quip about board membership. I am not looking for a LFNO board position. There are many more qualified than I. All I did was participate in writing the charter. At this point, that is not saying much as the leadership does not follow the charter. I believe that none have read it. Otherwise, there would have been a different outcome to the mess they created. To them, it was only a means to create a school. Also, I would find it difficult to be civil to the parents who have protected the current board at the expense of others’ children, You note that I did not say their children. They are free to screw up in regard to theirs, but not to others. I will always hold them accountable for their stupidity. Enough said.

  • lovenolalife

    First of all, I have no idea why people on this blog insist on bringing Audubon into the conversation about Lycee – they are not invoived with Lycee. Melissa you stated that you are an Audubon parent, but so am I. I have young children there and had an older neice that attended pre Katrina. There are major differences in the diversity at Audubon now. Pre Katrina the French program was almost all white, coming from middle class families. When I bring my child to the school, in the French program, the classrooms are much more diverse. I see White, Hispanic and African American children in the program. I also have been to the open house for new students. There is no test to get into Audubon’s French school at Pre-K or Kindergarten. Also, all parents do not have to pay the maximum tuition. They have a program set up that you pay based on your income and some people do not pay at all. And the school is working with students that are having a hard time in French so they can keep all of the kids in the French program. The only complaints I heard about this is the ones who started in kindergarten with no French and they have to repeat kindergarten. But, they told us this at the open house. The French Director who spoke explained this. Maybe you should go take a look at the French classes in PreK, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade before you start saying that Audubon is not diverse. Also, people that have issues with Lycee should leave Audubon out of this mess.

  • Nola

    Get a verbal commitment from the new CEO applicants to commit to diversity that mirrors the diversity of the immediate greater metropolitan area. Have the new CEO release the documents that have been withheld that will likely prove that at-risk numbers have been skewed. Prove outreach, and embrace the MacMillans component of the charter. Present a full budget at every board meeting so that the public knows that the school’s finances are on the up and up. Start with a clean slate. Restore our faith in this school, it’s leadership and our state. This is what needs to be done.

  • Inspecteur

    Agreed, but you are making sense, and LFNO defies sense. The founding clique of Lycee wastes an unsettling amount of time on hatred and vitriol against ACS and EB. And they never miss an opportunity to dish out gossip or lies to new parents who don’t know any better. The women Lycee pays to do ‘development’ are really just smear campaigners. They surely aren’t delivering anything they’re contracted to do. Their spin machine is responsible for most of the horrible things you hear about the other schools.