Just a week after Lycée Français de la Nouvelle-Orléans board members voted to extend its top job offer to Mireille Rabaté, the San Francisco school administrator has turned them down.

Mireille Rabaté
Mireille Rabaté Credit: Marta Jewson / The Lens

Rabaté, the lone in-person interviewee for the school’s CEO position, sent an email Monday night declining the job and calling it “one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make.”

Board chairman Jean Montes and member Erin Greenwald should have received the email by Tuesday, according to a forwarded copy of the message which Rabaté shared with The Lens.

Subject: Thank you

Date: Mon, 20 May 2013 22:18:52 -0400

Dear Dr. Montes, Dear Erin,

It has been a difficult couple of days: I examined your generous offer and tried to imagine all the implications of my decision on my life, including professional as well as personal aspects. It has been one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. Please, rest assured that I did not make it lightly.

After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that, at this time, I must regretfully decline your offer to become the next CEO of Lycee Francais de la Nouvelle Orleans. I am extremely grateful to you, the Search Committee, the members of the Board, and the whole community of the school for giving me the opportunity to discover the school and for the warm welcome during my visit and after: this is a wonderful project for a fantastic community, and I wish you the very best of luck and success with it.

Please extend my sincere thank you to all those involved.

Sincerely yours,

Mireille Rabate

Montes and Greenwald, who were selected to negotiate employment terms with Rabaté, could not be reached Tuesday to comment on her decision.

On May 13, Greenwald was among the seven who voted in favor of extending an offer to Rabaté. Montes and board member Paige Saleun abstained from the vote.

Even with rumors about Rabaté’s decision circulating throughout the day Tuesday, parent Darren Beltz said he had remained hopeful.

“I think we’re at a point where we really need a strong leader and we need it now,” said Beltz, whose son attends Lycée, “so that’s greatly disappointing.”

Beltz said he assumed the search committee would continue vetting applicants. “My concern is that we’re at a point now where we really need decisions to be made for the planning of next year.”

Lycée is ending its second school year under the leadership of an interim CEO who was hired in November. Gisele Schexnider joined the school last fall following the resignation of school leader Jean-Jacques Grandiere, the second chief to leave the school in a matter of months.

The 340-student Lycée managed to retain a number of French exchange teachers who this Spring were poised to leave at the end of the school year unless there was a change in the school’s leadership. In March, State Superintendent John White personally assured them at the time that new leadership was coming — and soon.

It’s unclear what will happen now.

As of Tuesday night, Beltz said it didn’t appear that parents had been officially notified by school leaders that Rabaté had declined.

Neither management consultant Jeremy Hunnewell, who has been steering the school’s search, nor CEO search committee member Kelly McClure could be reached by phone Tuesday for comment.

The search committee accepted applications for the CEO spot through 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...