Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans planned to interviewed two more candidates Saturday in its aggressive search for a new chief executive officer to lead the embattled charter school. But one withdrew her application Friday night.

On May 1 the committee voted to invite Mireille Rabate for a second interview, but with only one candidate of five moving forward last week, the committee decided to interview two additional applicants: J’Vann Martin and Lysianne Essama.

Only Essama would interview Saturday.

Essama is currently the principal at John Hanson French Immersion, a K-8 school in Maryland, according to her resume. She also serves as adjunct faculty at two colleges and earned her doctorate in physics at the University of Poitiers in France.

Martin, who recently resigned as Pierre Capdau Elementary principal, withdrew her application Friday night. She is the third candidate to do so after being invited by the school for an initial interview.

The 340-student school endured the resignation of two CEOs in its first two years. Though Lycée has had an interim CEO in place since November, its board hoping to install a permanent leader.

The three-member CEO search committee conducted Essama’s interview Saturday in an hour-long closed-door session using Google Hangout to talk with her remotely.

“We had a very strong interview,” Member Kelly McClure said at the end of the morning meeting.

After resuming into open meeting, McClure proposed that the committee schedule a second interview May 9. Rabate has already been invited for a second interview that same day.

The committee decided to wait to receive Essama’s response to an assignment, a 90-day launch plan for the school due Monday at 5 p.m., and then decide whether or not to invite her as well.

The committee approved a jam-packed interview schedule for the day.

“That is aggressive and ambitious and I’m not sure whether we will have two candidates on that day or not,” said McClure, “but I think we should plan for it.”

First the candidate or candidates will interview in-person individually with the committee and present their project said McClure. After that interview, if the committee feels the candidate is qualified, they will make a recommendation to the board.

“We are handing the candidates at that point off to the board,” said McClure, explaining that after their interview recommendation the committee would have no official role in a candidate’s progression.

If a candidate is recommended by the committee the day will continue with a tour of the school and an interview with the full board. The candidate(s) would also have lunch with a few board members. At 6 p.m. parents and community members would be invited to a town-hall style interview, where anyone can ask questions of the candidate.

At the end of Saturday’s meeting the committee took questions from the handful of parents and grandparents in attendance.

The group voiced concern about the small pool of candidates, but committee members reassured them they would only recommend candidates who were qualified for the charter school’s top spot. Parents asked that all resumes of applicants be posted online going forward and the committee said should not be a problem.

Parents also asked which board members would be selected to have lunch with the candidates, hoping it would be a mix of the five new board members and the five senior board members. McClure and member Carol Asher agreed.

Applications for the chief position will be accepted through May 13, the date of the next regularly scheduled board meeting. The day-long interviews will take place May 9.

The committee will meet at the school Monday at 6:45 p.m. to discuss Essama’s candidacy.

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...