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Einstein school leaders call for more transparency

Members of Einstein Charter School’s Governance and Finance Committee want the board of directors to be even more transparent during its monthly meetings.

At a committee meeting Tuesday, member Zachary Wool suggested that the board attach a description of Louisiana’s Open Meetings Law, along with the charter’s bylaws, to every meeting agenda notice.

He also wanted to laminate copies of those documents and post them on both locations of the school.

Part of the reason for clarifying the law is so that the board can reserve the right not to field questions in the middle of the meeting, in case a large groups of the general public start suddenly flocking to the meetings. Only a handful of guests have shown up for any one meeting thus far, so the board generally takes questions at any time.

“We don’t have to allow any public comment or questions during the meeting,” Wool said. “Public comment has to be allowed before a vote is taken. If parents suddenly start showing up at that meeting, they’re not going to know that.”

On that note, Wool said that he would like more parents to be aware of the meetings. He suggested that the board meetings appear on school calendars that are sent home with students.

“Maybe parents don’t know that they can come and comment,” Wool said.

Board President Ryan Bennett agreed.

“A year ago we committed to being as transparent as possible, and this is being really clear about how to access this information,” Bennett said.

Wool also suggested that the board allow parents to join and become members.

The committee discussed options for recruiting new members. Board member Kathy Litchfield recently resigned.

Bennett wanted to focus on getting at least nine members who weren’t parents on the board, before considering that option. After Litchfield’s resignation, Einstein’s board has seven members.*

“If we get to 11 members, I’m comfortable having parents,” Bennett said. “With nine, I’m not sure.”

Bennett suggested the board join either the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools or the High Bar in order to get assistance with member recruitment.

Committee members said they’d compare the organizations and discuss the option at the next meeting.

Ryan Bennett, Laurin Jacobsen, Zachary Wool and Douglas Guidry were present. The Board Governance and Finance Committee meeting lasted for about an hour.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Einstein’s board had only six members after Litchfield’s resignation. The board has seven members. (Oct. 3, 2013) 

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About Della Hasselle

Della Hasselle, a freelance journalist and producer, reports environmental and criminal justice stories for The Lens. A graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Hasselle lived in New York for 10 years. While up north, she produced and anchored news segments, wrote feature stories and reported breaking news for, a hyperlocal news site. Before that, she worked at the New York Daily News. She obtained her master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at (917) 304-6121.

  • nickelndime

    Perhaps Mr. Wool is already wondering why “the public” (including parents, teachers, and other school employees, including school administrators) do not show up at these public board meetings?! But he wants to be prepared just in case (“…large groups of the general public start suddenly flocking to the meetings. Only a handful of guests have shown up for any one meeting thus far…”). Well, if Mr. Wool suddenly starts seeing the public show up at these Einstein meetings, perhaps he should grad that camera, because there ayn’t nobody showing up, AND that’s the way CEO Shawn Toranto wants it. All Einstein employees are on a tight leash and they best not complain or they will find themselves out of work on the last day of the school year. Lee Reid, esq. has told Toranto that she is “queen,” and nobody (including that damn board) can tell her what to do. So, have at it, Zach.