March’s Breakfast with the Newsmaker is Lagniappe Academies board member (video)

On March 19, The Lens’ education reporter, Marta Jewson, will interview Lagniappe Academies board vice chairman Dan Henderson at our monthly Breakfast with the March-2015-newsmakerNewsmakers event. The topics slated for discussion include the special-education violations report issued by the state to Lagniappe Academies, the sudden announcement of the closing of the school and what action the board is prepared to take.

We invite you to read the following related articles:

Parents try to explain to son why his beloved school is being closed

RSD superintendent recommends closing Lagniappe Academies charter school

Flagrant special ed violation, cover-up alleged at New Orleans, charter Lagniappe


Date: Thursday, March 19

Time: 8 to 9 a.m. Doors open at 7:30 a.m.

Questions: Anne Mueller,

Location: Basin St. Station, 4th floor, 501 Basin St. at St. Louis Street

Parking: Available in the Basin St. Station parking lot adjacent to the facility. This map shows the location of the parking lot and adjacent access points.

The event recording can be viewed below.


Special thanks to our sponsors LCI Workers’ Comp, The Ella West Freeman Foundation, the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Foundation and Basin St. Station.

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Breakfast with the Newsmakers is a monthly business-social event that aims to engage The Lens’ audience with one another and with the people making news in and around New Orleans. Newsmakers events are open to the public.  They are free to Lens members, with a $10 suggested donation for non-members.

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About Anne Mueller

As the Development director Mueller leads The Lens’ fundraising efforts including foundations, major gifts, annual giving, events, sponsorship and prospect research. She has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector in New Orleans, New York City and Oxford, MS. Her professional experience include The National World War II Museum and A Studio in the Woods, a program of Tulane University. She received a bachelor’s degree in history from Bennington College (VT) and a master’s degree in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture. She can be reached at (504) 258-1624.

  • nickelndime

    Great choice for the March newsmaker. 03/13/2015 5:13 PM

  • nickelndime

    WE would have posted this on the Sarah Towles Reed article, but the thread was closed. That’s alright. It all comes together in the big picture. It has to do with Austin Badon wanting to jump into the vacated seat of Ira Thomas on the OPSB. Now for those of you who follow along, you should know that I support Ira Thomas, and it doesn’t stop with the B$ that is coming out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Also, let me say, that when the sister of the CEO of VIET-NO, Cyndi Nguyen, Lorna Hoang, names her child AUSTIN, WE THE PEOPLE have a problem, so here’s the “re-post”:

    It takes a village to raise an idiot. Well, Village de l’Est Homeowners Association with Cyndi Nguyen of VIET and Minh Nguyen of VAYLA-NO and the Michoud “community” and your backroom deals with RSD’s Dana Peterson and the Reed High School “takeover,” it looks like you all have raised the perfect idiot to replace Ira Thomas. AUSTIN BADON. 03/14/2015 12:00 AM Re-post: 03/15/2015 1:45 AM

  • Karran Royal

    Nickelndime, be sure to watch the video, especially the last 15 minutes. I wonder if you will hear it the way I hear it.

  • nickelndime

    Hey Karran Royal – I haven’t seen it yet, but thanks for giving me notice. Can’t wait. 03/21/2015 10:05 PM

  • nickelndime

    Well!!! Karran Royal – I was riveted to the video. Also, who is McCormack (not sure of the spelling – still employed by the board) at the school? Who is “board” counsel? What are the parents doing – and can anything be done to help them? That’s just a few of the “red flags” that went up for me. What you got? 03/21/2015 11:17 PM

  • nickelndime

    From what I remember, the RSD did not offer Dibert to Lagniappe, as Dan Henderson said in the video. Lagniappe was offered the facility on Hayne Boulevard (where Lake Forest was housed) in eastern New Orleans (which the Lagniappe Board turned down). Major problems with that facility (Gaudet). This was definitely out of the Treme’ area and would have been detrimental to the neighborhood coheviseness of such a small school. 03/21/2015 11:31 PM

  • nickelndime

    The following is a re-post in response to an article by Danielle Dreilinger on of the Times-Picayune – whom we should all know by now is not local – buf that’s alright, so here goes:
    Have you considered going investigative? It’s raw and it’s rough and there isn’t much money in it at first. But you have to be totally committed. How much time,, did the Chinese broad put in before you before she got pushed up to the State level? 6 months before you got hired ? Keep the day job. It psys da rent. What about Andrew Vanacore? I heard he moved on to an island. If you find this offensive, if may disappear, but what the hell, it’s your life, not mine. 03/22/2015 1:52 AM

  • Karran Royal

    To be offered Gaudet is a set up to kill the school. Now the question is, who benefits from the demise of Lagniappe? It seems that there may have been an effort to kill this school for a while. I don’t care a thing about charter boards, but I care about the children caught up in the crossfire in the world of market base reforms. I refuse to accept that children are collateral damage in this game. I will never forget being at a meeting several years ago when Paul Pastorek made it clear that the LDOE understands that some charters won’t make it. That is when I had this uneasy feeling that, wow, that’s not good. It would be years later that I finally put it all together and understood that closing any school is not accountability and it certainly should not be an acceptable tenant in any school reform agenda. Sometimes it takes a while, ever for people like me to get the epiphany that closing schools, even charter schools is harmful to children. I am thankful for my experience at Mc 15 (pre-KIPP) because it taught me to be child centered. Having that child centered sense helped me in my epiphany. I wish the “reformsters” had a Mc 15 experience.

  • nickelndime

    Yes, Karran Royal, you are correct. A RSD offer of the Gaudet building to Lagniappe would have killed the school. And perhaps that is/was the plan. It looks natural. You are highly experienced and extremely knowledgeable of education in this city (the good – like Mc 15, the bad – and this is really bad and getting worse, not better – and the ugly). With all of your knowledge, you have said it took some time for you to really understand what is going on here. Public schools should not be opened with the expectation that some will fail and some won’t (survival of the fittest? Not always). What is worse is that this premise (that children and families don’t really matter in the scheme of things – education is big business) is being supported by Louisiana government, including our governor and Louisiana legislators, the LDOE, and those favorite nonprofits like New Schools for New Orleans. It does appear to me that the RSD is in a mode of closing out its schools that are in modulars and will use any reason to do it. If boards resist, the RSD is prepared to write reports and do whatever else it has to do to close ’em up. The State reports are scathing and intended to rouse the public and incites them to get the tar and feathers ready e.g. Miller-McCoy, Intercultural Charter School – you have developed a list – you know which ones have been targeted for closure and which ones the RSD has changed operators. They really do not care if chilren are hurt in the process. It is not their children. As far as Paul Pastorek, he was extremely dangerous 8-9 years ago and he did a lot of damage during his reign as the Louisiana education superintendent. The damage continues. And, Pastorek’s back! 03/22/2015 2:53 PM

  • nickelndime

    When “business” becomes the primary reason for opening and closing public schools, and students and families are simply cast to the side and told that they will be bumped up a step on an application for schools that are below average or simply have no openings, then the educational process has gone awry. It is fixed, loaded dice, an un-level playing field…and in no way should be construed, interpreted, or held up as a model for the city, the state, or the country. This is not some board game, like Monopoly. These are real children and real places. 03/22/2015 3:11 PM

  • Karran Royal

    Ali McCormick is the kinda sorta assistant to the CEO, she’s a teacher and speech pathologists at Lagniappe. She’s in charge now. If you read the report, she is mentioned a lot by people who signed affidavits. So, yes she is still employed by the school. The parents are considering legal action. There is a great group of parents over there who understand that their children are being used in this sick game of edupolitics. They are also sensitive to the issues of some children not getting the services they needed and recognize that the DOE is doing little to make sure those kids get the services other than there being a CA plan in place. Closing this school does not fix this problem, it makes it got away and it hurts children. These parents will fight back and not let this happen if they can help it.

  • Karran Royal

    Monopoly is what comes to mind and I often use it as I describe this nightmare to others. I often say these are real, living, breathing children. When I talk to these edupreneurs, even when they are taking credit for one of the rags to riches stores of these students, I still get a sense that to them these are not real living breathing children. I get a sense that these are conquests, stocks in a portfolio that either perform well or must be liquidated if they perform poorly. They market these kids like products that indicate how wonderful their charter franchise is. It’s utterly disgusting. The fact that they now use the term portfolio speaks to exactly how they see these children. It speaks to how they see our schools. They see our children and schools as commodities to be managed, traded and liquidated, not as necessary elements of a community. A scenario often plays in my head. I think about a scene 40 years from now that looks like some education version of the Stepford Wives. Our children will be robot like perfect appearing adults raising soulless children who are programed to fill whatever role corporate American needs them to fill. They won’t care if their health is impacted by whatever that corporation is selling. It’s a scary scary world to come if these people have their way.

  • nickelndime

    Karran Royal – corporate America running schools and “portfolio management” are scary thoughts indeed. From what Board President Dan Henderson said and what the Lagniappe Board has decided to do, it appears the board is washing its hands and preparing to liquidate. The board is/was not in it for the long haul, and that is distressing because they are giving up on the very people who have supported the school. Lagniappe was in Corrective Action, and the school (and the parents) were led to believe that the problems would be corrected and the school would continue to operate. The people over at the Intercultural Charter School were given the same story until the RSD and NSNO decided to give (make available only to) Einstein federal grant money to take the school over (close ICS). This was slipped in front of the OPSB by Kathleen Padian and her friend, Sarah Usdin. It didn’t even get into a committee, but that’s another story for another time, except that the RSD is doing the same thing when it closed Reed High School and slipped it to Einstein again. These are all rotten deals, and now District 1 is missing an OPSB member, and Seth Bloom says “they” don’t need one and it won’t hurt if there is no replacement for six months. These RSD stories are getting stale. The OPSB is divided. Dirt is always flung by the RSD when boards don’t go down easily and then “confidential” “public” reports are blitzed to the media. The State RSD loves it – it makes them look like the good guys! Henderson says they have enough money to get through to the end of the year and close up. If any good comes of this, it will be because some parents believe it is worth the fight. 03/22/2015 9:55 PM

  • nickelndime

    The State RSD could write THE BOOK -“THE BIBLE OF PUBLIC CORRUPTION IN LOUISIANA EDUCATION.” The RSD even trumps the state board of education (BESE). You can get the Louisiana AG’s Opinion on that. RSD leaders (Dobard, Peterson) and the State Superintendent of Education, John White, should be the news on the steps of a federal building by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There is wholesale mismanagement and misappropriation by the RSD and a couple of favored charter operators (CMOs) that are running with millions of dollars in public education money, and nobody, including the State, either can or will monitor it/them. One reporter is like one drug dog in a large urban area. Somebody – it would be great if the FBI sticks its nose into this – needs to get on top of it. Employees who complain or try to report fiscal mismanagement to the audit firms get fired. Even the LLA’s Office will not firmly admonish the RSD, and this has been going on for at least nine years. So please, spare me about how the RSD is better than either the old or the new OPSB. The electorate in New Orleans is, without a doubt, a mixed-up electorate, but that is as good as it is gets. The RSD should have already returned some of the school facilities it “failed” instead of closing schools or handing out charters to its charter operator friends (KIPP, Choice Foundation, ReNEW, FirstLine Schools, Collegiate Academies). And even this, the RSD does behind closed doors and does not allow the press to enter. 03/23/2015 1:44 PM