Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans charter school inched along in its search for a new chief executive officer Wednesday afternoon by inviting finalist Mireille Rabate to New Orleans to interview for the job.

However, the search committee does not think one candidate is enough.

“We’re very pleased with the candidacy of Madame Rabate,” said committee member Kelly McClure. “However, one candidate does not seem sufficient for an important process like this.”

The three-person committee initially selected five finalists from a pool of 30 applicants, but two withdrew their names. The committee interviewed the other three by phone and Google Hangout in April, and met Wednesday behind closed doors to discuss the candidates.

After a 45-minute closed session, the committee decided to invite Rabate to New Orleans for a second interview. She is currently assistant head and middle school principal at French American International School in San Francisco.

Member Nicole Boudreaux, who participated in the meeting via video, said she was impressed with Rabate’s interview. She seemed “very comfortable with the French curriculum.”

Carol Asher said she would have liked to see more fundraising experience, but she believed Rabate is willing to learn.

“As the head of a school, she inspired confidence immediately,” McClure said.

The two candidates not invited for a second interview, Benjamin Orillon and Elizabeth Chaponot, worked at lycées in California. The three parents attending the meeting asked the committee members to explain why they were not chosen.

“I would not submit them as candidates at this point,” McClure said simply. Asher agreed.

“We want the best candidate for the job,” said McClure.

The committee then voted to review additional applications, which as of Wednesday only numbered four. They added a second executive session to the agenda in order to review those résumés.

When The Lens asked why the committee decided to go behind closed doors a second time, Asher said the résumés had come in “last minute.”

After the 10-minute closed session, the committee voted to conduct initial interviews with Lysianne Essama and J’Vann Martin. Essama is currently principal at John Hanson French Immersion, a K-8 school in Maryland, according to her résumé. She is adjunct faculty at two colleges.

Martin spent almost five years in the Capital-One New Beginnings Charter School Network, first as a vice principal and later principal. Though Martin’s résumé states that she is currently employed with New Beginnings, she resigned her post April 5, according to New Beginnings CEO Sametta Brown. Martin’s cover letter to Lycee is dated April 17.

McClure said the committee hopes to interview the two additional applicants before Rabate’s interview, which will likely be May 9.

The application process will remain open until May 13, the next board meeting.

As the meeting drew to a close, the few parents present questioned how long the search will go on. “I think we continue the process until we find the right candidate,” McClure assured them.

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...