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Charter leader employs six relatives; two may violate state ethics law

This image from Darrin Cook Jr.'s Instagram account shows him with Doris Roche-Hicks, his grandmother.

This image from Darrin Cook Jr.'s Instagram account shows him with Doris Roche-Hicks, his grandmother.

The leader of the Friends of King charter school system has hired six relatives, including at least two whose employment appears to violate state ethics laws that ban nepotism.

Chief Executive Officer Doris Roché-Hicks employs her sister, daughter, son-in-law, grandson and great niece. She also employs her son-in-law’s brother.

Three of those relatives, however, fall outside the restrictions against relatives because state law doesn’t consider them “immediate family.”

And Roché-Hicks’ daughter is covered by an exception that allows immediate family members of the head of a school system to work as a classroom teacher as long as she is state-certified and Roché-Hicks doesn’t take part in discussions about her daughter’s performance or participate in any financial transaction with her on behalf of the school.

Roché-Hicks, who has been an educator for close to 40 years, has been recognized locally and nationally for her work in New Orleans. She was principal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School for Science and Technology in the Lower 9th Ward from 1995 until Hurricane Katrina, except for a year as an area superintendent under Superintendent Al Davis Jr.

Shortly after Katrina, she fought to open King as a charter. Friends of King now runs King and Joseph A. Craig Charter School in Treme. According to payroll records, the two schools had a total of 179 employees last school year.

Ethics law states that the head of a public agency – a chief executive or administrative officer — may not employ members of her immediate family. That includes children, spouses of children, siblings and siblings’ spouses. Although charter schools are generally exempted from laws governing traditional public schools, they have to comply with ethics laws.

Roché-Hicks did not respond to repeated interview requests by phone, email, and by hand-delivered note. Tracie Washington, the lawyer for Friends of King, did not respond to phone calls and emails. The Lens also attempted to reach Hilda Young, the Friends of King board president, and its vice president, Eartha Johnson, by phone and email. Likewise, none of Roché-Hicks’ relatives who work for her responded to requests for comment.

The two relatives whose employment appears to violate that law are:

Iris Roché Ponson, Roché-Hicks’ sister, was scheduled to earn $14,000 last school year as an attendance clerk and hall monitor at King, according to system payroll records. Ponson is listed as Hicks’ sister in two obituaries published in The Times-Picayune in 2010 and 2013.

Darrin Cook Sr., Roché-Hicks’ son-in-law, is the district’s director of maintenance, for which he was scheduled to be paid $50,000 last school year. Roché-Hicks daughter, Monique Cook, married Darrin Cook Sr. July 9, 1994.

Roché-Hicks may be under the impression that the ethics law creates an exception for immediate family members if they have worked in a similar capacity for another school board within the same parish. However, that exception applies only to immediate family of a school board member, not a superintendent, which is what Hicks is considered for the purposes of ethics laws.

She filed an ethics disclosure form in 2012 regarding Cook Sr., saying he has worked for Friends of King since Sept. 18, 2006. Only one form turned up in a records search for for Cook Sr., although state law requires Roché-Hicks to file a new form each year he is employed.

Roché-Hicks checked the “other” box to explain why his employment follows state law. She wrote that Cook Sr. worked for the Orleans Parish School Board as “a skilled worker” before coming to Friends of King.

However, her daughter’s employment does comply with the law.

Monique Hicks-Cook is a teacher at Craig charter. She was hired at an annual rate of $52,813 in the middle of last school year. Hicks-Cook’s marriage certificate lists Doris Roché-Hicks as her mother. She’s certified to teach in Louisiana, which is a requirement to be exempted from the nepotism law.

As required by law, Roché-Hicks filed a form with the Louisiana Board of Ethics to disclose that her daughter works for Friends of King. According to the form, her daughter was hired as a special education teacher on Jan. 7.

Hicks-Cook and Cook Sr. did not return phone calls and Facebook messages this week. Attempts to reach Ponson also were unsuccessful.

A search of the ethics board’s disclosures didn’t turn up any forms for Ponson, even though Roché-Hicks is required to disclose the relationship between her and Ponson and cite an applicable exemption to state ethics laws.

Louisiana Board of Ethics administrator Kathleen Allen said Tuesday that someone would have to file a written complaint in order for ethics board staff to investigate the employment of Hicks’ sister and son-in-law. If the staff found that the complaint had merit, the Ethics Board could file charges. Roché-Hicks would have to present her case in a hearing with the Division of Administrative Law’s Ethics Adjudicatory Board.

If that board concluded that Roché-Hicks violated the law, she could be censured and fined up to $10,000. Any employees found to be in violation of the law could be removed from their posts, suspended or demoted. They could also face fines of up to $10,000.

Three more of Roché-Hicks’ relatives also work for the district, although their employment doesn’t appear to violate state laws:

Darrin Cook Jr., the adult son of Cook Sr. and Hicks-Cook, and Roché-Hicks’ grandson, is the district’s webmaster and information technology consultant. His pay rate was set at $49,000 last school year. Cook Jr.’s LinkedIn page says he’s worked there since January 2007.

Cook Jr. has posted photos on Instagram of him with Hicks-Cook and Roché-Hicks, identifying them as “my mom” and “my grandma.” Hicks-Cook is identified as Darrin Jr.’s mother in a 2011 CNN profile on him losing 175 pounds.

Lawrence Cook III, who identifies himself on Facebook as Darrin Cook Sr.’s brother, was scheduled to earn $27,040 last school year as a custodian at Craig. Lawrence is listed as Darrin’s brother in a 2011 obituary published in The Times-Picayune. On Facebook, Lawrence Cook thanked Cook Sr. and Hicks-Cook for “giving me a job.”

Cook Sr. is listed on payroll records as District Head Custodian. His brother is a custodian. No school officials responded to questions asking whether Cook Sr. is the direct supervisor of his brother. State law says no public servant is supposed to participate in a transaction that could benefit an immediate family member.

Fallon Roché, who identifies herself on Facebook as Hicks-Cook’s cousin, was on the payroll for $19,600 last school year as a substitute teacher at Craig. Her mother, Evelyn Roché, is Doris Roché-Hicks’ niece, according to a 2010 obituary and a 2000 Times-Picayune article.

It’s not clear how long Cook III and Roché have worked for the district.

Situation isn’t unique

Other New Orleans school leaders have come under fire for hiring close relatives. The ethics board filed charges in November against the head of Robert Russa Moton Charter School, Paulette Bruno, for hiring two daughters-in-law. That case is pending, with a phone conference with Bruno scheduled for Aug. 27, Allen said.

In that case, one of her daughters-in-law, Suzanne Encalarde, was a certified teacher, but Bruno signed off on forms that promoted Encalarde and told the Moton board that Encalarde should get a salary increase. To comply with the law, school leaders employing family should recuse themselves from transactions and discussion of their work.

That rule was noted in a 2010 advisory opinion issued by the Ethics Board to Lusher Charter School CEO Kathy Riedlinger. She had asked for an opinion as to whether her daughter, Rebecca Hebert, could teach at Lusher. She was told that Hebert fell under the rules governing superintendents, and that as long as Riedlinger stayed out of business related to her daughter’s employment, both would be in the clear.

In 2012, a co-principal at Miller-McCoy Academy for Mathematics and Business – either Tiffany Hardrick or Keith Sanders – hired two siblings, auditors said.

The Board of Ethics hasn’t filed charges against anyone at Miller-McCoy, Allen said. But she wouldn’t say whether the board was still investigating the matter.

The school also awarded a contract to Hardrick’s brother’s company, The Times-Picayune reported. That could run afoul of the law that bans public officials from participating in transactions involving their family members and the public agency.

Such controversies occurred under the pre-Katrina New Orleans Public Schools system, too. In 2000, a G.W. Carver High School janitor, Alphonse Davis Sr., took home $70,000 in salary and overtime shortly after his son Al Davis, Jr., became district superintendent.

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About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams stays on top of the city's loosely organized collection of public schools, with a special emphasis on charter schools. In 2011 she was recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans for her reporting on charter school transparency and governance. In 2012, she was part of a team that received a National Edward R. Murrow Award for their work following a New Orleans family's recovery after Hurricane Katrina. She graduated from Edna Karr Secondary School in Algiers, and she obtained her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. She can be reached at (504) 575-8191.

  • Davontral Johnson

    I am outraged !!! This is a slap in the face to a great woman that has helped so many people and children. I read the Lens daily. I am outraged that you took up space to report this. As a city we have to go a long way and do better.

  • The fact that you are outraged means this city has even a bigger problem as it seems there are those who support nepotism, favoritism and unethical behavior.

    If this CEO, Doris Roche-Hicks, is to teach these kids values and fairness, wouldn’t teaching ETHICS and FAIRNESS, be also very important to teach these kids?

    It would appear her hiring actions at this school speak louder than any speeches she has given.


    What good is it to do well in school only to have FAMILY members get the job before those who are more qualified?

    (And even if these family members are qualified, there is something called the BALANCE of powers. Having one family employed at a publicly funded schools is the “WHO YOU KNOW” system instead of the “WHAT YOU KNOW” system.

    If New Orleans is going to keep going with the “WHO YOU KNOW” system, pretty soon it will be the “NO ONE LEFT TO KNOW” system.

  • Neith08

    The folks she hired are qualified. What’s the difference between hiring your qualified relative and hiring your good friend. I have visited charters that are celebrated widely that do just that. Who you know IS important, which is why some communities benefit more in these systems since they have had the privilege of designing the systems and have had access to these systems longer than folks from other communities. The fact that you look at this story and offer this critique, but aren’t honest enough to acknowledge that this is the way of the world in general is noteworthy. Doris Hicks is an incredible school leader and she ought to be commended instead of mistreated.

  • Margarett

    With much success comes a lot of negativity. Job well done, Dr. Hicks! If they are talking about you then that means you are surely doing an excellent job! You will continue to prosper because your work is outstanding. It’s funny how so many people who don’t have an education background surely has a lot to say. What is even more sad is that the news reporter, Jessicia or whatever her name is (because she isn’t important) is African-American. You would think that African-Americans would uplift one another instead of trying to tear each other down. This is coming from a Caucasian also.

  • Scott Mitcher

    I’m outranged at this story. All schools have a family member working there. The students at Dr. Martin L. King Charter School is receiving a great education. Why report about the positive things that are going on at the school. Wow, Ms. Williams why did you write about a pile of mess. 1) Write about the school’s excellent technology center, 2) Write about the STRONG PTA, 3) Write about how ALL graduates received scholarships, 4) Write about the 1.6 million dollar grant the school received, 5) Write about how Dr. Hicks entered a molded school and cleaned it out ? 6) Write about how 90 % of her staff returned after Katrina, 7) Write about when President Bush and President Obama visited the schools. 8) Write about how Dr. Hicks has been successful for over 30 years as an educator, 9) Write about the Literacy and Numeracy Nights, and 10) You need to hook up with one of the journalism students. They can help you with good stories. You have contradicted yourself throughout the story. God help us if this is where journalism is going. We must do a better job for our students.

  • disqus_qtvF4sydqM

    When the late Superintendent, Everett Williams, was alive, both his daughter and his wife were OPSB employees. His daughter was appointed principal under his tenure as superintendent and his wife was a teacher. I know the topic came up about the ethics rules. Dr. Williams’ family members reported to other administrators, but principals must be recommended to the Board by the superintendent. How is this different from the current issues?

    Is the relationship the issue or is the direct supervision the issue? Also, what happens when a direct-run school becomes a charter and the principal/CEO has relatives working who were previously hired by RSD or OPSB? Do the workers lose their jobs?

    Finally, how is Doris Roche-Hicks being discussed, if no one filed a complaint? She resurrected MLK when most people were still displaced due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The people she hired included many of the former staff members and some relatives who were capable of the heavy lifting that goes with opening a charter school. Where did this news story originate?

  • Scott Mitcher

    I can’t believe the Lens posted teaching certificates, marriage certificate and a beautiful picture. Wow, the Lens have gone too far with this. GREAT JOB DR. HICKS AND THE ENTIRE KING AND CRAIG SCHOOLS. This article is a joke and should be removed.

  • Scott Mitcher

    Johnson, obtained your facts before speaking.

  • Neith08 wrote

    “Who you know IS important, which is why some communities benefit more in these systems since they have had the privilege of designing the systems and have had access to these systems longer than folks from other communities.”

    If you say “some communities” have benefited from the “who you know” or “good ole boy” or “good friend” system, can you mention any communities in Louisiana or New Orleans that have benefited?

    Last time I checked, both Louisiana and New Orleans’ “who you know”, “good old boy”, and “good friend” systems has resulted in a declining population with the highest rates of poverty and crime in America with virtually no good jobs.


    New Orleans Metro Area 1.1M,
    San Antonio 2.2M,
    Atlanta 5.4M,
    Houston 6.0M,
    Dallas 6.7M,
    All of Louisiana 4.5M

    All of Louisiana is 18% smaller than the Atlanta, 25% smaller than Houston, 33% smaller than Dallas. Are all those “who you know” communities benefiting Louisiana or New Orleans?

    In other words, the ENTIRE STATE of LOUISIANA is still significantly smaller than its comparison CITIES of Atlanta, Houston and Dallas. Additionally, San Antonio is still bigger than both New Orleans and Baton Rouge combined.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    2 afraid 2 follow me on Twitter?
    U can still bookmark me at

  • When you say blacks should “uplift” each other, do you really mean ENABLER?

  • How about writing about NOLA’s City hall’s 25-30% employee remedial course work? That is, 25-30% of City Halls employees are illiterate but most likely graduates of the “who you know” public/charter school system, ref Ed Blakely.

    Or how about writing about the Serpas’s statement of the NOPD’s not wanting to be the “employer of last resort”? In other words, are many NOPD officers functionally ILLITERATE and cannot write police reports?

    And what does it mean when the District Attorney says that Jefferson Parish officers can write better police reports than the NOPD? AND what does it mean when the police chief says that’s not a nice thing to say? Shouldn’t the police chief defend his officers and deny that many in the NOPD can’t read or write?

  • Leah Belcher

    Again, I feel the this is a personal attack against Dr. Hicks. First it was a business manager and now this foolishness. I need to call an emergency meeting to handle this situation in an ethical matter. As a resident of the city, I will form a rally against this Internet newspaper. This school staff has worked too hard to have someone to throw misleading crap at them. This piece of a newspaper targets only a certain number of charter schools. I wonder why ? How does an editor allow stories like this to be published. It goes to show you that anyone can provide foolishness and it gets published. Who cares if her family members were the only ones who worked for the school ? Get real news, please.

  • Leah Belcher


  • Karen Bruno

    The Friends of King School District is what every school district should be. This article is very misleading and the author contradicts herself. Ms. Williams should have written about the many success stories of this district. Every time the Lens writes an article about charter schools, its negative. When she wrote about Moton and Lusher, she never placed a picture, teaching or marriage certificate. The community WILL NOT allow you to defame Dr. Hicks in any manner. I can name several schools with family members working together. Why not report on that ? The Friends of King is a strong network and we will stand behind our dynamic leader, Dr. Hicks. Many of you may find this to be exciting to read ? Its because the leader and the school have been very successful. Dr. Hicks and Dr. Moore, please keep on the excellent work. Your schools are working for our students. I love Dr. Hicks!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Kenta Love

    This is what happens when a person is successful. Kudos to you, Dr. Hicks. You must be doing many many things right. Keep the demons out of your life.

  • Cynthia Lewis

    I attended King School and Dr. Hicks was and is the best school leader. I graduated before the hurricane. This school prepared me for my career and just life. Why are people hating on my principal, Dr. Hicks. People must stop trying to bring the school down. Why try, when you can’t do nothing ? We don’t care who she hires because they work hard for all students. You all need to report on real news. Some of this stuff should not be included. Dr. Hicks, many people are jealous of you.

  • Keith Myers

    I stumbled on this article. I live in Houma and many family members work together out here. Who cares who she hired to work? Are they getting the job done ? This is a very vindictive story co-signed by a disgruntled person. Keep running a great school, Mrs. Hicks.

  • Valencia Bruno

    Please write on the great things happening at King and Craig Charter Schools. She wrote without any resources or sources. We love Dr. Hicks!!!!!!!!

  • Jessica Williams

    Hi there, disqus_qtvF4sydqm.

    In the story, I said that this is not a new issue. We referenced issues where this has come up for other school leaders – Lusher, Miller-McCoy and Moton, and in the old OPSB system with Al Davis, although Davis’s father was employed prior to Davis becoming supt.

    I can’t speak to the period that you’re referencing about Everett Williams, because I don’t know all the facts of that case.

    To answer your question about the relationship being the issue or the direct supervision the issue, it’s a bit of both. The agency head isn’t supposed to have a hand in the decisions around job performance or setting salary, etc. And there are some cases where immediate family can work together. I’ve listed some in this story. It doesn’t appear that Roché-Hicks’s daughter’s employment goes against the ethics laws, because she is employed as certified teacher.

    There’s another exception that allows employees who worked in a district before their family member took a leadership position to remain in their positions, provided the CEO/Supt. does not have any input on their pay/job performance. There’s another that allows people leaving from another school system to be hired within a new school system, despite a familial tie, if they are the relative of a board member.

    To answer your last question, I have been looking into nepotism in schools since the Board of Ethics filed last year against Robert Moton. I was interested to know how many schools were hiring family members and what is actually allowed under the law. I contacted to Friends of King officials repeatedly for context for this story. I have also acknowledged her accomplishments within the story.

  • Valencia Bruno


  • Sandra Denton

    The reputation of Hicks can’t be destroyed at all. Dr. Hicks is a wonderful leader. This had to have been a child to write this story. Who cares about looking at a person marriage license ? Come on and find real news to write about. Talk about the shooting of the black male teen by the white homeowner and etc. Dr. Hicks, you are what I want to be like.

  • disqus_qtvF4sydqM

    Thank for the facts. I do have a few more questions for your source on the Board of Ethics. I have had the opportunity to view the forms used to report conflicts of interest for nepotism. The forms are supposed to be sent in annually within the first 30 days of the first day of school. Board members, superintendents and Chiefs of Staff are required to report. In 2006, when MLK and Moton Charter Schools opened, the forms did not include CEOs. Prior to the massive charter school movement, none of the schools in Orleans even had a CEO. There was no place on the form for the principals of these schools to respond/check.
    Do you think the changes to the reporting requirement and the new forms have something to do with these cases? Also, can you get copies of the required forms from 2006 to 2012 to see what has changed with your own eyes? It was the understanding of most charter operators that the requirement was for the non-profit board members operating the schools, not the principals.
    The Board of Ethics is also supposed to send these out to the personnel they believe should respond. Did the school leaders referenced refuse to respond to the Board of Ethics inquiries or were they overlooked in the notifications in previous years? I find it interesting that this issue did not arise in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, or 2011.
    BTW, I admire the thoroughness with which you report your stories. I applaud your courage in reporting what you learn through these investigations. I have a personal interest in both of the schools (MLK and Moton) because I have relatives who work in these institutions. I know that the school leaders are dedicated and would want to follow all rules and regulations.
    Hopefully, your report will help correct any wrongs and guide those involved to resolve issues with the Board of Ethics respectfully. It may also help the Board of Ethics update their data base, edit their required communications, review and update their forms (see the 2011 revision for a check box that says “CEO”), and accept responsibility for negligent oversight in this area that has changed rapidly.

  • Lisa Flores

    It is puzzling how allegedly a respectable, but not always credible, newspaper such as the Lens would publish this type of “investigative” reporting in an attempt to defame a distinguished school leader as Dr. Doris Roche Hicks. More interesting is how the
    story is carefully worded to eliminate important factors. Case in point and first discrepancy is the fact the reporter decided to focus on an attendance/hall monitor and a custodian who just happened to be related through marriage or blood to the CEO. At her on doing, the reporter
    stated how each member is related to the CEO, but I would assume purposely eliminated the fact that: (1) the MLK site house not only an elementary school, but also a high school; and, (2) the fact that these employees are NOT directly supervised by the CEO, but instead by other administrators, the principal of the high school and the high school dean of students. Secondly, for unknown reason(s) the reporter listed the salaries of each employee, but failed to report that the salaries each employee earned are comparative salaries of similar positions of this region. The reporter attempt to disillusion the readers only exemplified the fact that Dr. Roche’-Hicks selected the best candidates for these “typical school” positions, and that her personnel manager (not the CEO) fairly compensated those individuals based solely on their basic responsibilities and duties. I ask the reporter to explain whether or not these positions are viable for the successful operation of a school, especially a high school? From what was reported, neither employee was paid an exuberant salary. In fact, the position of the attendance monitor annual pre-tax salary when divided by 20.5 weeks only amount to $666. Maybe the story would have been more “news worthy” if the reporter investigated and discovered that these positions were specifically created with substantial salaries for exclusive, elite relatives, but it did not. The positions appointed ARE positions held in nearly every school across the United States at the same comparative rates.

    As I read the article, the only question that came to my mind is “what is the hidden agenda of this reporter?” Surely, there is or must be a hidden or an under-minded factor. Yes, it is interesting, with all of the charter systems, all of the obvious wrong-doings of children and
    families within this system we call educational reform, how or why this reporter would elect to select the ONLY locally minority-managed charter. If there is not a hidden agenda in the midst of this story, then Bourbon Street is the best place to build a mega Baptist church.

    In case you are surveying the readers and responses, I am a Latina.

  • Simply Amazed

    This is really a waste of time and it seems this journalist is brand new at the world of journalism.

    When children are being educated it should be something that is applauded and most times it is; however, when African American children are being educated, most times it is discredited and this is such the case here.

    Let’s talk about how many years of educating children this school has under their belt and how many success stories they can share, 2 United States Presidents visited, they have been recognized all over the nation for not only coming back when all odds were against them, but coming back with vengeance and taking charge.

    Jessica, as years pass you will soon see that this type of story won’t win you a Pulitzer as you had indicated you wished for in an interview; however, it will frustrate people who are doing the right thing and there will then be less people in our community dedicated to the education of our children.

    Thanks a lot, my AFRICAN AMERICAN..EDNA KARR/LOYOLA..GRADUATE Journalist…what a waste.

  • Tracey Medley

    I don’t comprehend this story at all. If two family members are legally working, why write on the other people ? This article must be deleted immediately. Write about how King School and Dr. Hicks does not do selective enrollment like so many other schools ? Also, where are the personal pictures that you completed on other schools. I smell a lawsuit and a rally coming soon. Who funds this mess ? Keep up the good work, Dr. Hicks.

  • Tracey Medley

    AhContraire, if you do it for one, do it for all. Where are the family pictures from Lusher and Moton ? This is nothing but deplorable writing. I care about the success of students. I commend Dr. Hicks for a job well done.

  • Tracey Medley

    Dr. Hicks, when you are doing great things, people refuses to report on it. Dr. Hicks is the best leader in the city. This lady wrote about something that the state never investigated. Then, she clears Hicks-Cook and posts her marriage certificate. I love the Friends of King and Dr. Hicks.

  • Yasmin Bey

    1) Anyone reading this article knows it was written by someone who worked at the school. 2) If her daughter is cleared to work, why is she mentioned throughout the story, 3) Are reporters that desperate to obtain pictures, death notices and marriage licenses, 4) Why is the LENS going so hard after this black school district, 5) If several employees are in compliance, why write about ALL of them, 6) The board hires and fires, 7) Just because you only found one ethics paper, they may be many more, 7) Why publish a story with interviewing the people, 8) Who cares who the board hires or fires, 9) Why this reporter never used any other picture as it relates to other schools she reported on, 10) Who funds this online source and 11) This is a story without any merit. This is an attempt to destroy the character of Dr. Hicks. BUT WE WON’T ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN. WE HAVE MRS. HICKS FRONT, BACK, SIDE, LEGS, ARMS AND ETC. WE LOVE YOU, DOC……

  • Yasmin Bey


  • Ted Miles

    I was searching the web for a horrible story by a professional journalist. Yes, I found this one. My students are going to critique this article. They are going to use a rubric . Hopefully, they can write much better. This story is very contradictory, unethical and fictional. I commend educators like Dr. Hicks and her staff for your excellent work.

  • MV

    The comments on this article are ridiculous. Jessica Williams is one of the few journalists in New Orleans who is doing real reporting to hold charter schools accountable. This is a well-written and well-researched article. As a taxpayer, I think this information is relevant and I’m glad the Lens reported it. Roche-Hicks, regardless of what other good things she may have done, appears to be violating state ethics laws. Public employees cannot use their positions to get jobs for their relatives. Also, marriage certificates are public record and publicly available, so I don’t understand why people are getting worked up over that.

    Please keep up the good work, Jessica!

  • Ted Miles

    MV, you must be a relative of Jessica. This article could have been written much better by a middle school student. Your Jessica contradicts herself throughout the article. She states that one is hired legally, but places her personal marriage certificate on the web. Yes, desperate for a story. Dr. Roche-Hicks has probably been a leader before you was born. She is an expert in all aspects of the law. Jessica Williams must do a much better job obtaining facts before writing. Jessica Williams wrote about other charters, but refused to place their marriage licenses and pictures. Surprised ??? Jessica Williams is attempting to destroy the character of the leader and school. We will not allow this to happen. If you care about her, please advise her to go back to school. We are ready to rally throughout the city on this bogus article. And I thank you…..

  • Alumni Staff

    The Alumni of Dr. Martin L. King is planning a rally and press release on next Saturday, August 16, 2013. We need to revise a plan to stop the attack on our dear school from The Lens and Jessica Williams at 10:00. Please spread the word to many others alumni members, relatives, friends and community members. One vision, One word…….

  • Alumni Staff

    MV, please advise Jessica to go back to school. She needs much needed help with writing. I’m confident that she will and can get better. The story is fictional and very unethical.

  • AJ

    Dr Roche-Hicks is clearly a very dedicated and much loved leader. What a blessing for the city and the students around her. I deeply applaud her efforts, her commitment to open enrollment for ALL children and the focus of the school to work hard to serve the children with special needs when so many other schools turn them away or push them out.

    With that said… the law is the law.

    I’m sure Dr Roche-Hicks will focus on resolving these ethics violations post haste so, the focus remains on the children and the warm and committed school community she represents. Like it or not even wonderful leaders and schools must follow the law, something that seems to be sorely negated in MANY charter schools in this city.

    I hope Jessica will continue to focus on the myriad of urgent issues facing the needs of Charter school kids.
    I would love to see a focus on the handling of children with special needs in the Orleans Parish Charter schools.
    The legal violations are endless in this arena.

  • Teaching in the Nine

    John Bogart once said, “If a dog bites a man it is not news,
    but if a man bites a dog it is news.” Also, if a dog bites a prominent person
    it is newsworthy. So, is this your definition of news, Ms. Williams?

    Besides, Ms. Williams your pictures do not depict that you
    are notable nor does it legitimize your credibility. However, it does show that
    you are a sensationalistic, exploitive or enraging individual who have lashed
    out against a person that recognized that there was a need to try new and
    innovative approaches to improve student achievement in our great city.

    Dr. Doris Roche’ Hicks has exemplary work ethics which has
    been shown toward students in practices and performances, toward her
    professional colleagues and toward her parents and communities. Also, Dr. Hicks has always created a learning environment that nurtures to fulfillment the potential of all students, act with conscientious effort to exemplify the highest ethical standards and fights diligently to ensure that every child has a right to an uninterrupted education free from strikes or any disaster.

    Have you ever visited the school to see how learning and
    teaching is taking place? Do you know the many programs that are incorporated into the instructional time and extended day to educate the ‘Whole Child?” If you don’t know what goes into the education of a child at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Joseph A. Craig Elementary Charter Schools, then you should not waste the public time with insignificant propaganda.
    MV and Ms. Williams you can’t possibly know about ethics!

  • Lee Barrios

    This story in no way questioned the ability or success of Roche-Hicks. In a state where ethics are a joke, the public should be encouraged by any report of violation. Everyone must follow the law regardless of how well they otherwise serve the community. The case of BESE member Kira Orange-Jones is a perfect example of ethical breaches being allowed. I am sure that Jessica is trying to be fair in bringing to light EVERY questionable action so as not to appear to be picking on any one. If no ethics violation law is being committed then these stories would not be reported. As usual, people do pick and choose who they believe should be allowed to fly under the radar.

  • nickelndime

    Well, Jessica! You got a big one this time. As Al Pacino says in “Scent of a Woman, “…I’m just getting started.” You done it. I know you had/have it in you. You are taking care of part of what I told Steve is a problem. Not just reporting the obvious, but reporting the “hidden agenda,” i.e., “between the lines.” No matter how many of those charter school reporters are out there, somebody has to put the pieces together. That is what you did.

  • Gilda Woodside

    Jessica did not give a big one at all. What she was made a fool out if her yourself. She has reported on other schools, but never plastered a picture or any other person documentation of them. Of course, no one messes with Kathy at Lusher. Right Jessica ? Jessica has reported things without speaking to the accused. I could not believe that she paid for marriage certificates and dug up death notices. Do you think reporters at the New York Times write like this ? Jessica headline reads that Dr. Hicks hired six relatives, BUT TWO MAY BE ILLGALLY HIRED. Jessica, The Friends of King Board hires and fires. You went ahead and still talked about the people who seemed to be legally hired. Who cares about any of this ? You are not the first one to shed light on this subject. But, this is the only story that was poorly written. I have learned that Journalists are so excited for stories and sometimes they jack it up. This is the most contradictory story I have ever read. You call Dr. Hicks one title, but it your comments you refer to her as another. What is it ? What disappoint me is that when I look at the staff, you seem to be the only minority out of the bunch. Dr. Hicks has been an educator for many years. You know and I know she knows the law. This story was a complete waste of your time. Dr. Hicks can teach you a thing or two. I will be waiting on other pictures and personal information on other charters. Its only ethical.

  • Gilda Woodside

    nickeIndime, she sure did it. She has set herself up for a complete failure. Jessica listened to a disgruntle employee who made her look stupid. If you think the pieces are together, you are more confused than Jessica. Jessica wrote about her-say and mess. This is an example of what writers should not do. Again, where are the family pictures from Moton and Lusher ?

  • Gilda Woodside

    Jessica was not fair at all. She wrote about other charters with this matter, but refused to place a family portrait of their family. She did not look up their death notices. If we are going to start with ethics violations, we must start and look at EVERY SINGLE school in Louisiana. Wow, what made her focus on this school district. Jessica should be reprimanded for this contradictory story.

  • Gilda Woodside

    I took several hours browsing the stories that Jessica Williams wrote. The story about MLK, you can feel her anger towards the school. Dr. Martin L. King School is a black school district. The school does not have selective enrollment like many other schools. If Jessica had her facts together, she would have jumped on a New Orleans East school’s CEO who provided her husband with the contracts to run the security and food departments. What about the cousins who work together as leaders across the river ? What about the school who is flooded with lawsuits about injuring special education students ? What about the failing charter organization who is constantly receiving more charters ? What about the husband, wife, daughters, grandmother and grandchild who all are working under one relative ? But, you chose this exemplary school in the lower ninth ward to write about ? I also look at motives and I see many here. You are all over in this story. Dr. Doris Roche-Hicks is an excellent leader who can provide you with ethics information. In the end, you will look like a fool and see that no laws were violated. As a community, our focus is on the children of this city. We must take stuff like this away and write about the many success stories. Jessica, you are from New Orleans and you continue to focus on the negative things at these schools. You don’t have a clue about how hard Dr. Hicks and her entire staff work so hard for our children. I’m outraged that you paraded to City Hall to obtain marriage certificates. I have never seen that type of correspondence in any New York Times article. This article MAY make it in a middle schools newspaper. This was unfair to target the schools and the people who you note in the article. I can’t wait until you see that Dr. Hicks is not guilty of anything. We love Dr. Hicks and the work she has done for the students, teachers, staff, parents and community members.

  • Mildred Tanner

    Dr. Hicks has been an educator for over 40 years. She knows the law better than most lawyers. This is just a story to have her enemies chuckle, print, e-mail and call each other. But no man can ever bring this outstanding woman to her feet. I read this story and I feel very sorry for the writer. I’m just one of many advocates for Dr. Hicks. Jessica, stop listening to disgruntle former employees or other charter groups who have been found guilty. They have made you look like a lady who sits on a porch daily and gossips about the neighborhood. Come on Karr graduate, I thought you would have done a better job. Dr. Hicks is one of the best leaders in the nation. Jessica, ethics pages are two pages. You only produced one page. Educate yourself before making a fool out of yourself.

  • Mildred Tanner

    Jessica Williams, I will personally review your stories for pictures on other people, personal information and etc. You do it to one, you must do it to all. What has Dr. Hicks ever done to you ? You are very angry and this brilliant lady and this is a tactic to defame her character. Well, it won’t happen!!!! Dr. Hicks and the school is a beacon for this city and the ninth ward community. What you should have done was to write about the amazing things going on at the school. Oh, but you want to report on negativity. As a person from New Orleans, you should get on your knees and ask the Master to forgive you. WE LOVE OUR DR. HICKS. ALSO, YOU SELECTED A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE.

  • Gloria Palazola

    I story reads six relatives hired, but two may have violated ethics laws. But, Jessica Williams goes on and on about ALL individuals. 1) Lets talk about the principal who I work under without any teaching or leadership credentials. This is a major violation to the students and staff members. 2) Let’s talk about our state leader and is lack of the necessary credentials to be a superintendent. Yeah, you are afraid to go there. 3) Let’s talk about the other charter leaders who lack advanced degrees and teaching experience. You don’t one to open that can of worms. 4) Let’s talk about how Dr. Hicks should be a mentor for all school leaders in this city and state. Probably won’t go there because your motive is a personal one. I won’t ever read this online gossip newspaper again. This is just a bunch of nothing. If she hired any relatives, she won’t be the first and sure not the last. Again, why did you start with her ? Keep moving forward, Dr. Doris Roche-Hicks.

  • Gloria Palazola

    “I believe in strong women. I believe in the woman who is able to stand up for herself. I believe in the woman who doesn’t need to hide behind her husband’s back. I believe that if you have problems, as a woman you deal with them, you don’t play victim, you don’t make yourself look pitiful, you don’t point fingers. You stand and you deal. You face the world with a head held high and you carry the universe in your heart.”
    ― C. JoyBell C.
    Dr. Hicks you have many haters because of your success. We love you and maybe you could have the Lens and Jessica Williams with good stories.

  • We Love Dr. Hicks

    Jessica Williams, I can’t believe you are a Karr and Loyola graduate. I can’t believe you are from New Orleans. I can’t believe you are the only black reporter for this online gossip newspaper. You should be a supporter on this only black run charter organization. Instead you find the negative things to report about. Why not do a weekly section and report about the positive things going on at King, Craig and other charters. Instead you are doing what the enemy wants you to do. That is to attempt to slander great leaders who are still here dealing with foolishness like this article. Dr. Roche-Hicks is what great leadership should be about. The article is a hot mess.

  • We Love Dr. Hicks

    I have never seen this type of writing. Uploading documents and pictures are tooooo ghetto. Maybe because I don’t read this type of writing. I must print this and allow my 10 year old to read this so he can know what bad writing is. We must do better in this city ? Who funds this online gossip paper ? As soon as you come on it, it ask you to donate money. What is this ? Dr. Hicks, you are doing great things at King. People are like crabs in a bucket. They can’t be successful so they try and tear you down. Of course, we won’t allow that to happen.

  • We Love Dr. Hicks

    Jessica, why you did not use family pictures on other charters and use their important personal documents ? You are not being fair to this district at all. Why did you think it was appropriate to pay and upload marriage certificates ? I can’t believe you did this.

  • A mad white male.

    This lady went and researched death notices. Who has ever done this ? The story is so contradictory and fictional. If this lady has been an educator for over 40 years, she knows the law. We must refrain from writing stories until we gather the facts. No complaint was ever filed with the ethics department. Why write on this ? I don’t know Dr. Hicks personally, but I know she is doing major/positive things in this city? She stayed to put up with this foolishness in this city when so many people left and gave up on our students. Jessica Williams, you failed again.

  • A mad white male.

    Why is this story the headliner ? Next, please.

  • We love haters.

    Relatives and superintendents are not new for New Orleans. This has been going on since the 1970’s. Jessica Williams allowed a disgruntled former employee or another charter group to jack up a story. I will never read this mess again. Dr. Hicks is a person who you want to be on your team. If you get to know her, you will find out how amazing she is. Now, where is the real news. What about how the flood insurance may go up ? What about how to save our young black males from crime in this city ? Dr. Doris, keep the schools moving forward. You are simply the BEST.

  • We love haters.

    I challenged all black charters schools to come together to banned The Lens. We are allowing them to divide and conquer us. We must show these people that black run schools can stick together and educate students. Dr. Hicks is one of many great principals in this city.

  • We love haters.

    Did Jessica Williams ever report Lushers and Moton salaries ? Or is it just MLK. I smell something very fishy here. Maybe, Jessica wants to be the CEO of The Friends of King. It will never happen!!!

  • So Happy


  • So Happy

    Inaccurate information ALERT. The salaries are completely wrong. Please obtain your facts before publishing. WE LOVE YOU, DOC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • So Happy

    Preach!!!!!! This was a very unskilled writer.

  • > “if you do it for one, do it for all”

    What are you suggesting?
    Are you saying there are favoritism and nepotism problems at Lusher and Moton?

  • Neith08

    I am happy to tell you which communities have been able to leverage social capital for the benefit of their financial capital. Wealthy white folks do it all the time and we call it “fair” and “good business.”

  • This CEO Dr. Doris Roché-Hicks


    That is,
    Former Atlanta schools superintendent, Beverly Hall, Ed. D (i.e. PhD) reports to jail in cheating scandal

    In 2009, Hall was named the National Superintendent of the Year by the Schools Superintendents Association, which at the time said her
    “leadership has turned Atlanta into a model of urban school reform.”

    BOTH PhD’s also…..

  • 35 other indicted….
    MUG SHOTS appear to show that are all African American, i.e. BLACK.

    Dr. Beverly Hall, others report to jail in APS cheating scandal – Atlanta

    I think even the KKK, after seeing the MUG SHOTS, are shaking their heads.

  • So Happy

    Dr. Hicks DID NOT violate any laws. The reporter is ignorant, the Lens is ignorant and Fox 8 news for airing her-say. All entities are struggling for news. Dr. Hicks is an excellent leader who character is trying to be defamed. It won’t happen because this is BOGUS. Probably from a former employee or the charter school accused of the same thing. Sue all parties, Atty. Washington and make Williams to apologies to all social sites and all newspapers.

  • Melvin Carter

    Its evident that this site is desperate for news. They have been running the same story for two days. Dr. Hicks, you are keeping many up at night. They are extremely jealous of your success. I love her and the entire MLK staff.

  • Melvin Carter


  • Kimberly Martin

    This is the second day for the same news. WTH ? What king of investigated reporting with the same news. Who cares about who this board hires ? They must be something right. Geesh, next topic please.

  • Hate Foolish News

    Maybe Jessica Williams is a Funeral Home Director. She was adamant about researching death notices. This lady did not violate any laws. Dr. Hicks is a brilliant lady.

  • Fan Dr. Hicks

    As anyone ever investigated this reporter, Jessica Williams. Something is not right with this story. If the daughter is cleared, why is she and her information is posted on the site. We must place our energy on the students. Girl, Dr. Hicks is too smart for you. She knows how to run a school with ethics and moral. You was looking for something to write on. I have a suggestion, please write about why young females are experiencing menstrual cramps. This should keep you busy.

  • Fan Dr. Hicks

    Jessica, also you may want to count the leaves on South Claiborne near McMain School or watch some grass grow. These are two great tips for you. What a waste of taxpayers money with this story.

  • Mr. Watson

    Does this site ever change its stories ? Judging from the many comments about Jessica’s writing, this story should have been pulled. I forgot you all have nothing to report about. Who funds this crap ?

  • Mr. Watson

    Dr. Hicks is an excellent leader who does not have a thing to worry about. The Lens should be worried about being sued really soon.

  • Ariel Smith

    This article is funny. The author goes back and forth and all around. So, what is the point of the story. This school is probably the best school in the city. Dr. Hicks, keeping working hard for our children.

  • Ariel Smith


  • Ariel Smith

    What happened to good writing ? This story had to be written by a young child.

  • No Comparison

    AhContraire, no comparison at all. Reread the story again for clarity. IGNORANT…

  • nickelndime

    Hey Gilda! With all the “what abouts” YOU cited (i.e., “New Orleans East school’s CEO who provided her husband with the contracts to run the security and food departments. What about the cousins who work together as leaders across the river ? What about the school who is flooded with lawsuits about injuring special education students ? What about the failing charter organization who is constantly receiving more charters ? What about the husband, wife, daughters, grandmother and grandchild who all are working under one relative ?”), my question is, What are you waiting for, girl? Seems to me, Gilda, that you have loads of information about possible ethics violations. I hope Jessica writes similar stories despite the massive criticism being heaped upon her and THE LENS. I think she has done an excellent job of investigative reporting, and as I have said before, THE LENS will never run out of like material in this rotten city and state.

  • nickelndime

    Teaching Certificates (“verify a teaching certificate”) are accessible to the public on the LDOE website, for all who have criticized the reporter’s reference to particular documents. In fact, more charter schools (RSD and OPSB) should be investigated for hiring uncertified and/or under-qualified administrators (CEOs) whose salaries are in the $180,000 and-above range. And, as far as Kathy Riedlinger, her salary has been a quarter of a million dollars since 2009 (The Times-Picayune), so why is her daughter a mere classroom teacher employed at Lusher, anyway? I thought she was in Europe at the chalet! LOL and rolling on the floor. If we ignore “possible” ethics violations, then let’s also ignore theft(Lusher, NOMMA,…) and cheating allegations and anything else individuals choose to ignore about other individuals and the charter schools in which they “operate” (and I do mean, “operate”).

  • No Comparison

    They won’t dare touch Kathy Riedlinger. They are too afraid to do so. But, they have messed with the right CEO this time. This story was done out of spite.

  • No Comparison

    NickleIndime, Jessica must do a better job of selecting stories to write on. She is doing what most schools are doing and that is selective enrollment. She is too afraid to mess with certain schools. She has been provided with tips, but she goes after certain schools. The article on Dr. Hicks was all over the place. Obtaining death notices are going too far. She should write about the positive things going on at MLK and Craig. This article was a waste of space.

  • Trudy Mercadel

    My children attends MLK. We don’t care about Jessica Williams or this online newspaper. We love Dr. Hicks and she is the best principal. They selected the only black writer to write about our great school. We love all staff members, regardless if any are relatives.

  • Trudy Mercadel

    Our mission at The Friends of King is to create and maintain an orderly, trusting environment where teaching and learning are innovative and exciting; where students are taught to read, write, compute, and think critically according to their fullest potential. WE ARE PROUD OF DR. HICKS AND HER STAFF.

  • Kendrell Taylor

    I graduated from Hardin under the leadership of Dr. Hicks. She is an amazing women who motivated me to obtain my career. Dr. Hicks, this is a bunch of mess and keep your head up. They have messed with the wrong lady. I love you so much.

  • Your Student

    This reporter went bananas. She pulled death notices and stuff. My Dr. Hicks is and will always be right. I love my Dr. Hicks.

  • Your Student


  • Mad Woman

    I get so tired of people trying to bring black schools down. This school is successful. I’m very disappointed about the people who linked this trash to their Facebook pages. Keep striving, Dr. Hicks.

  • Jasmine Walls

    King’s steadfast commitment to excellence encompasses everything that we do. We value and celebrate individually and as a community. We embrace different experiences to stimulate a vibrant community. WE ARE DOING MAJOR THINGS AT MLK. WE LOVE DR. DORIS ROCHE-HICKS.

  • Jasmine Walls

    Behind a successful person lies a pack of haters. We love King School.

  • Fan

    King School is Where Dreams Begin: Preparing the Next Generation. Enroll your child at the best school in the city, Dr. Martin L. King Charter School.

  • Fan

    Enroll your child at Joseph A. Craig. We have spaces available for all grade levels. We have the best CEO in the world. We love OUR Dr. Hicks.

  • Fan

    Romans 1:29-32

    They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
    We love Dr. Hicks.

    (1) Roché-Hicks did not respond to repeated interview requests by phone,
    email, and by hand-delivered note.
    (2) Tracie Washington, the lawyer for Friends of King, did not respond to phone calls and emails. (3) The Lens also attempted to reach Hilda Young, the Friends of King board
    president, and its vice president, Eartha Johnson, by phone and email.
    (4) Likewise, none of Roché-Hicks’ relatives who work for her responded to
    requests for comment.

    And to have Tracie Washington, a L-A-W-Y-E-R, not respond, is also telling.

    Does this NOLA Charter School seem like Atlanta Cheating Superintendent, Dr. Beverly Hall, PhD?

  • How ironic, to use the BIBLE, in a Public Charter School, to quote from?

    You would think BLACKS, one of the most religious races in America, would demand that the BIBLE be taught in Public and Charter Schools. But BLACKS are so SILENT on the BIBLE to be taught in public or charter schools.

    Furthermore, as you can see not only in this school, but most public schools, there are ZERO ETHICS and have resulted in two lost generations of black men.

  • Wow, there are a lot of comments here!!!

    Most are just saying it’s a poorly written article. Yet, those comments don’t mention WHY it’s poorly written, or mention how to better write this story?

    With the number of comments and my deleted comments, it definitely reminds me of the Atlanta Cheating Scandal that includes charges of RACKETEERING, coercion, RICO….stuff like Al Capone.

    I think Jessica Williams did a GREAT JOB and WENT TO EXTRA ORDINARY LENGTHS to get BOTH SIDES of the STORY, even HAND DELIVERING A LETTER! (Certainly NOT an ENABLER. Maybe there is hope.)

    But what did she get? NO COMMENT. NO CLARIFICATION. ZIPPO.
    And even no comment by Tracie Washington!!!! WOW!!!

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    This article is not about sullying anyone’s name or criticizing a school, but it is in regard to ethics laws in Louisiana which charter schools must follow. I am sure that this practice is happening in many other charter schools. No school leader should disregard state ethics laws, as the laws have been created to protect the public’s interest. Taxpayer monies fund charter schools, and charters must follow the letter of the law. However, I am outraged that our governor can violate the constitution, and state law, but we hold others accountable for not following some of the same laws that he violates. I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for the current Ethics Board either – Jindal’s appointees. Ethics Board members don’t uphold Ethics laws – for example – Kira Orange Brown, a current BESE member, who is employed by Teach For America, as a state wide director of the program. TFA receives tax payer appropriated monies from the state. That is a glaring ethics violation, but the Ethics Board gave her a pass. Louella Givens, former BESE member who lost to Brown, should be beating down the Ethics Board’s door demanding that “they” follow the law.

    Look to the school’s charter under its ethics section. What does it state? Each charter is required to submit its ethics policy within its charter. Even if the hiring of someone’s family member skirts ethics legislation and its charter, many consider it an unethical practice. We must expect education leaders to demonstrate the highest professional standards in regard to hiring practices, otherwise, the public will lose confidence in charter school leadership. The public, though unwilling but required, sacrifices its hard earned monies through taxation to fund public charter schools. There is the rub for many.

    The “glaring” problem in Louisiana is that there is little or no oversight from state or local school officials to oversee charter schools, to ensure that state laws are being followed, and the public’s tax monies are being spent lawfully. Charter schools need guidance from these entities. Without oversight, charter school administrators and boards make mistakes, as they are neophytes, and are not properly trained. Whose to blame for controversies such as this one? State and local officials that have been absent on the job with the charter school proliferation since Katrina. Perhaps they should be given the axe.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Every charter school employee is interviewed and hired by the principal/CEO. Some boards vote upon the principal/CEO’s recommendations, others do not. The charter board’s chief responsibility is to hire, evaluate, and perhaps terminate, if warranted, the school’s principal/CEO. It is prohibited from hiring school personnel, as that is the responsibility of the principal/CEO, as he or she runs the daily operation of the school.

  • Joy Van Buskirk

    Sandra – I was disappointed to read your statement about “racism is alive and well”. Read the 50 plus articles on Lycee Francais Charter School written by Lens journalists. Unfortunately for all children in New Orleans, LFNO is a predominately white school, and the articles about the school were tough, far from flattering, and deservedly so. All of those stories were far more damning than this one. That school was a nightmare, and the Lens let their readers know about it. Due to its investigative journalism Lycee Francais is now, hopefully, on the road to recovery. I know that you are passionate about Dr. Hicks, and after reading your comment understand why you are and should be. However, I ask that you do not interject race into why this story was written because I have met Jessica Williams, and she is not of that ilk. All of us should hold charter schools accountable, and if mistakes are made, they should be corrected. Although you and I do not like personal items placed within this and other stories, the Lens is responsible for proving what it has written with documentation.

  • nickelndime

    I LOVE this comment: “This article was DEFINITELY an inside job, they know TOO MUCH.” LOL and rolling on da floor. Isn’t that ideally what investigative reporting is supposed to aim for – to “get on the inside” ? Wouldn’t this mean that this LENS’ reporter (Jessica Williams) achieved the goal and wrote from an extremely knowledgeable vantage point?!? Huh?

  • nickelndime

    Here’s another priceless comment: “But no man can ever bring this outstanding woman to her feet.” Does that mean Hicks NEVER stands up or has no need to ever get up out of her chair?!? LOL again.

  • nickelndime

    WOW!, Joy. Your comments are consistently insightful and well organized. I love to read them and they should be used as a guideline on how charter schools and these nonprofit boards should operate. Oversight is sloppy and nonexistent – on purpose! Even the attorneys practice this way as well (the one listed in this article is a prime example). I am aware of your experience in the field. Louella was lazy in her position with BESE. She was an easy target. Of course, nobody is beating down anybody’s door or demanding anything. I think RICO is applicable to what is happening in Louisiana, particularly as it relates to the charter school movement and how business is being conducted with public money.

  • Jessica Williams

    So Happy,

    We received payroll information from Friends of King. If any salaries are incorrect, please email us the corrected numbers at



  • Jessica Williams

    Hi, We Love Dr. Hicks.

    This story is mainly about Friends of King. The paragraphs about Moton and Lusher were provided simply as background, to show that this has happened before.

    We provided the accompanying material to back up our reporting. Our policy here at The Lens is to provide readers with the documents we base our writing on, to encourage transparency and so that readers can check our work.

    If you have any further questions about our policies, feel free to contact me personally at, or reach The Lens generally at

  • Jessica Williams

    Hi Karen,

    What contradictions are you speaking of?

    And if you do know of any schools in which there are family working together, I would like to learn more about them. Feel free to contact me at

  • D2spring

    I am interested in what the other teachers at the school make. I have absolutely no problem with teachers getting paid for what they do, but are only these relatives getting inflated salaries? That is the question we should be asking. It seems to me from the discussions about this topic that the other teachers (non relatives) do not make nearly as much
    as the family. This is the problem that I have with nepotism in the workplace.


    Mr. Miles,
    Please, before you have your “students” critique this article, check your own grammar.
    “I commend educators like Dr. Hicks and her staff for your excellent work.” It should read, “I commend educators like Dr. Hicks, and her staff, for their excellent work.

  • Lee Barrios

    Ms. Hicks has some serious political pull and evidently wants to share it with other members of her family. Recently appointed by U.S.Sec of Ed Arne Duncan to the NAGB – oversees NAEP national assessment of educational progress. There are rumblings that NAEP may morph into an extension of Cmmon Core Standards aligning the test to CCSS to further imbed it in efforts to privatize our public education system. Without the independence that NAEP has presumably enjoyed in the past as a respected indicator of education progress, there will be no checks and balances from the claims of success by charters and other vehicles of privatization.

    Some insight sent to me recently:

    As one can see from a Pearson news release in late 2009, the global media company is now pressuring state governments for precisely the national reforms such as the common core standards that will benefit their own bottom line most.

    The release begins, with a useful mantra which requires no justification, only repetition: “Education reform is a national priority.” As a result of this supposed priority, “Pearson, the education, services and technology company, is stimulating discussions of school reform issues with today’s launch of a series of video interviews with nationally recognized education leader David Driscoll, Ed.D. The company’s Evaluation Systems group, the most experienced provider of standards-based teacher certification testing programs, developed these thought-provoking videos with the former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education to contribute to the national conversation on the most effective ways to improve student achievement.”

    It seems Pearson has in one way or another partnered with Driscoll, who not only holds a great deal of reputation-clout based on his former role as former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, but also is even more influential at policy tables as “the chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress: The Nation’s Report Card.” Thus, while the news release uses Driscoll’s role at NAGB to lend an aura of impartiality to their advocacy of national standards, it is also a sign of considerable backdoor policy influence that the company is able to use a government leader to advertise its position.

    Not mentioned is the fact that Driscoll is also a trustee at the Fordham Institute proudly through its philanthropy sponsors charter schools which are, in the long run going to be a very lucrative industry for Fordham’s business sponsors, such as the Gates, Walton (Wal-Mart) and Hoover foundations, all of whom are heavily invested in the charter movement and profitable school competition.

    What policies are promoted in Driscoll’s videos? Firstly, it wants to follow Driscoll’s lead in Massachusetts, where “The key to our success…was not just student testing, but also teacher licensure testing…. The thing that made the biggest difference in Massachusetts was ratcheting up teacher standards.” Of course, Pearson just happens to be a world leader in the delivery of teacher testing services. Indeed, pressure to “ratchet up” teacher standard will mean more money for quality measurement (ie. teacher testing) and a lot more money for professional development, a field which Pearson already dominates, especially through its delivery of online teacher upgrading materials.

    A big part of the Driscoll videos is the promotion of national standards, and a parallel expansion of such standards to teachers:

    “In the video, ‘Education and the Future,’ Driscoll talks about the potential effect on teachers of the current movement toward common, national standards for student achievement. ‘As common standards are established across the country and we raise expectations for students, in most states, they are going to have to raise the expectations of teacher skills and knowledge.’”

  • D2spring

    I have spent some time reading some of the comments listed above. It seems a lot of people are upset that this article may darken the reputation of Dr. Hicks. Regardless of the favorable work that has been done and the clear success of the school, it is our job as citizens to make sure business (no matter the field) is carried on justly and fairly. You cannot excuse unfair work ethics by simply stating past good deeds. Think about your own jobs. Don’t you want to be paid fairly? Don’t you want to be paid based on the work that you do and not just because you are the grandson of the boss. These other teachers are not being paid the same way. Most of them are more experienced than these relatives, with years in the field of teaching. And yet these teachers salaries are no where near those listed in the article. I would have no problem with the relatives getting paid well, if the other teachers checks were just as plentiful… but that is clearly not the case.

  • Davontral Johnson

    To the Guest reporter. 1) Do you believe everything you read, 2) How do you know if they don’t have more credentials than you and 3) Stop being a crab in a bucket. When the white charters wanted to take over, everyone one of you would have been without a job. Is that one you want ?

  • Davontral Johnson

    Its a shame that Dr. Hicks is surrounded by demons and snakes at Craig Charter School. Before The Friends of King took over, the other charters were going to terminate the entire staff at Craig School. FOKS saved many of you all from losing your job. If this was another charter, you all would be walking a thin line. I pray that Dr. Hicks give this failing school to another operator. Many of the staff members walk around and pretend that they are on board, Clearly, many of you are not. If you are unhappy, find another job. Remember, what goes on in the dark, comes to the light. The informant of untrue information will be revealed soon. Why would you all be so stupid to read everything you read ? Jealousy is a sin and a shame. Get a life, Guest.

  • Davontral Johnson

    Hello, T. Love…….You can’t break us. We are a strong community of educators.

  • ronald allen

    Dr. D.R.Hicks keep up the good work I think someone or a group of people don’t want to see you in this position. Why in the world they would want to go as far as a death notice to try and dig up dirt. All of my kids was educated there and we all love you. The world has evil people and they are going to do anything to paint a bad picture of anyone in a high position, look hiw they talk about President Barack Obama. Groups are always trying his patience and in the end you and our President Barack Obama will and shall prevail. Just go yo GOD and leave it at the alter.

  • Bro. Keith “X” Hudson

    You know what’s so crazy about this story. Negroes looking the other way so long, that they will not see the TRUTH, if it slapped them in the face! I don’t know this Dr. Hicks, but, apparently she’s loved by a lot of blind people, and that is the make-up of this city. Corruption is so commonplace, that these negroes don’t understand wrong-doing when they see it. Now, if Jessica Williams done something wrong, then Dr. Hicks has the civil right to sue the Lens!!! And shut them down! She didn’t, so evidently she’s going to go with the public opinion and keep doing wrong. These same negroes support the NOPD during the massacres of Katrina, because these murdering pigs were their families & friends. Well, the Feds got a law: Misprison of a Felony or how about the RICO ACT? Since, the supporters of Dr. Hicks don’t think she’s doing nothing wrong. Let the law decide, and also arrest the friends & supporters, if she’s found guilty, that way we can get rid of a big propotion of these crooks!