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Board enters negotiations with Tennyson to become CEO of International School

The International School of Louisiana has entered into negotiations with Camp Street campus principal Melanie Tennyson to replace Sean Wilson as chief executive officer. Wilson is leaving to take charge of the International High School of New Orleans,

Those in attendance broke into applause as the board voted unanimously at its May meeting to negotiate a three-year contract with Tennyson. The decision came after two search committee meetings and an executive session over the past two weeks.

Earlier in the meeting, Parent Teacher Organization vice president Shannon Fazande argued for more transparency and diversity among board members.

She referred to the school’s website, which offers no information about the board’s policies, bylaws, member biographies or the nomination process for joining the board.

Fazande also noted a “same-gender, same-race majority” on a 10-member board, dominated by white males.

“I look at our board and it doesn’t seem to be a reflection of the community that you serve,” Fazande said.

In statistics released by the Louisiana Department of Education, as of Feb. 1 the International School of Louisiana’s 819-student population was 47 percent black, 26 percent white and 21 percent Hispanic.

Board president Matt Amoss and member Mike Lappa said they actively seek a variety of member backgrounds and ethnicities. It can be difficult to find candidates who are passionate about the school and willing to volunteer their time for a three-year term, Lappa said.

With the board’s current demographics and the lack of information about how the board recruits members, Fazande said, “It doesn’t seem to be aligning well with our mission of diversity.”

In other news, Wilson presented a proposal to the board that would allow him to begin working with the school’s attorney and insurance broker to provide healthcare coverage to employees in domestic partnerships. The coverage would be with the school’s current provider, BlueCross BlueShield, which recognizes domestic partnerships.

The International School of Louisiana already offers 80 percent coverage for “individual, employee plus child(ren), employee plus spouse, and employee plus family,” Wilson said. The school would not incur additional costs by allowing for domestic partnerships.

Board members approved the proposal with seven votes in favor and no votes in opposition. Secretary Barbara Griffin and board member Chantell Reed did not vote, saying they needed more information.

The board re-elected members John Wettermark and Duane Drucker to three-year terms. Board members also voted to postpone officer nominations for the 2014-2015 school year for two months.

This allows the board to hold a single nomination process, instead of additional nominations this August when Amoss and board member Andrew Yon reach their term limits and must step down from the board.

The next board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at 1400 Camp St.

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  • nickelndime

    ISL Charter Type 2: The parent, Fazande, has hit the nail on the head about public charter school boards and their lack of diversity and representation of the student body. This is not uncommon. The boards are seeded by one nonprofit in particular, that comes to mind. It is Caroline Roemer Shirley’s – the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools (LAPCS) – and it is done by creating board “pools” so that boards can be hand picked and shaped, instead of being represented by the local community. This nonprofit is beastlike and is in everybody’s business. School websites are lacking and hide behind dancing pictures and photographs. Board information? What’s that? Another example, but it is an OPSB Charter: Einstein Charter in eastern New Orleans. The website isn’t working and the board says that it was attacked by a virus. Stop laughing. They were serious! All Einstein board information is gone, including but not limited to contact information and a board meeting schedule and agendas, etc. The student body is predominantly African American, but also has a sizeable number of Vietnamese. The board has no Vietnamese members and only one African American, and she is a board “hopper.” Where does this board get its members? If you guessed “Caroline’s LAPCS,” you win the prize!