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Board heaps praise on departing ISL leader, but an ousted accountant airs grievances

Directors of the International School of Louisiana heard encomiums to departing chief executive officer and head of school Sean Wilson and also harsh criticism from a school accountant who was fired.

Wilson, who is leaving to head International High School, said he hopes to create “a conveyor belt of opportunity” for ISL’s graduating eighth-graders.

Board president Matt Amoss spoke at length about Wilson’s contributions to the school since he was hired as director of business operations in 2002. He was named head of school in May 2007.

ISL was then much different from today’s A-rated school, with more than 200 employees across three campuses, Amoss said.

“This is a school that Sean built,” Amoss said. “He and his team put this together.”

In a public comment, former senior accountant Anne Marie Hesson offered starkly different sentiments about the school’s administration.

Summarizing the grievance she submitted to Amoss on Tuesday, Hesson described a confrontational work environment and inconsistent financial management.

“I understand that ISL is an academically excellent school; however, my experiences as an employee on the administrative staff was anything but excellent,” she said.

She and others were excluded from “a privileged inner circle,” and she was instructed not to interact with board members, Hesson said.

“Both directors and I found discrepancies in the budgets, financials and other issues such as payroll errors and unsupported expenditures, but were unable to get constructive information and assistance from other directors or the CEO,” Hesson said. “We reported our findings to auditors, but they were not included in the audit reports.”

Hesson was fired March 17. Former finance department employees Williams Toujouse and Bruce Frommeyer have also left in the past few months. The school continues to employ a financial consultant while it searches for a new director of finance.

Following the meeting, Wilson said there is no truth to the criticisms and that any irregularities were a matter of “not following protocol.”

Hesson will be able to address the board’s grievance committee when it is next convened, Amoss said.

Wilson’s departure obviates further negotiations on renewing his contract, which expires June 30.

The board has voted to form a search committee to hire a new full-time head of school, though it may hire an interim leader in the meantime. The meetings will be open to the public and begin next Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at 1400 Camp St.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 28, at 1400 Camp St.

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  • nickelndime

    SEAN WILSON, the Dearly Departed of ISL (don’t make me say, I said it were so, over a year ago, that there were problems with this guy). YOU might want to listen to what the “In a public comment, former senior accountant Anne Marie Hesson offered starkly different sentiments about the school’s administration,” has to say NOW/AFTER THE FACT AND OFF OF THE PUBLIC PAYROLL. But, that’s the rub/that’s the problem. The criticisms were not made public until said senior accountant was let go/fired/given the boot… So, then we have a disgruntled former employee (I believe that is how expensive legal counsel will describe the former employee). I have fallen off of my chair and am rolling on the floor.

  • nickelndime

    Anne Marie Hesson said, “We reported our findings to auditors, but they were not included in the audit reports.” HAHAHAHA (who does she think pays the auditors?)

  • Anne Marie Hesson

    Nickelndime, I’m sure I will be called disgruntled, but I was aware of/concerned about and trying to do something about these problems from very shortly after being hired at ISL. The auditors weren’t concerned and yes, I know who pays them, but they do have professional standards to abide by. The State Board of Ethics wasn’t concerned. I think JPPSS may have been and the housecleaning began soon after the three dearly departed finance employees met with JPPSS Unfortunately, I needed a job and they’ve been pretty hard to come by the last few years. Why do you think there have been three finance directors and two development directors since June 2012 and both positions have been vacant since February?

  • SigmundFroid

    Hopefully Wilson’s departure will signal an overall housecleaning of unqualified, inexperienced administrators who came on board on an interim basis amid the fog of Katrina, but who found the eye-popping salaries they now earn too lucrative to leave. “A privileged inner circle” exists because they are circling the wagons and praying that newer parents with no institutional memory won’t start questioning the status quo too closely and demanding qualified, proven managers and educators. Unfortunately, talk from at least one board member about “continuity” of the Wilson regime only signals that an already-vested flunky will step into his role on an “interim basis” while lip service is given to advertising for a “permanent” replacement.

  • nickelndime

    I HEART Anne Marie Hesson and SigmundFroid!!! Now, dat’s wat I M talkin’ ’bout. “Let’s get it started in here.” BTW, Anne Marie, that’s what expensive legal counsel may call you, but that is NOT what I call you. I call you, “INFORMED, KNOWLEDGEABLE, CREDENTIALED, CREDITABLE…” But, Girl, that is exactly what THEY (the Sean Wilson’s, State/BESE, LDOE, etc.) don’t want, including the “independent” auditors – well, yeah, that’s another joke paid for at another time with public dollars). More problems: You, my Dear Anne Marie, IS way ahead of the times. So, what do you do during catchup? Contact the Feds? (you have firsthand knowldege, my dear).You would appear to be young. Have you considered getting the hell outta of here b4 the next hurricane warning hits? But if you still want a piece of the action, then stick around.

  • nickelndime

    Hey Sigmund, you are on top of it too, but you might want to delete the word “hopeful” from your Belief system.

  • Anne Marie Hesson

    Can we chat offline? Sigmund, too.

  • SigmundFroid

    How to do that?

  • Anne Marie Hesson