Lagniappe Academies board turns daily control over to teachers as shutdown begins

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A week after its third campus leader stepped down, Lagniappe Academies’ board is putting the fate of the soon-to-close charter school in the hands of its remaining employees.

Teacher Thomas Mickley-Doyle presented a two-page plan to close out the school at a special board meeting Monday night.

We are very aware of the challenges ahead,” he said.

Mickley-Doyle also co-authored the petition that circulated last week calling for interim school leader Ali McCormick to step down. The board met in an executive session to discuss McCormick and voted to remove her if she did not resign by Friday. *

Also upon returning from the closed-door session, with hardly any discussion, the board voted to accept the plan, while maintaining fiduciary oversight of the school.

“You’re going to run the school,” vice chairman Dan Henderson told about 20 teachers and staff in the audience.

Staff members were surprised at the start of the meeting when board member Byron Bishop suggested closing the school earlier than planned.

“I’m going to suggest that the school closes post state testing to save…money,” Bishop said.

Bishop said he recently learned the board may not have been receiving truthful information about the school’s finances and other matters from leadership. McCormick assumed leadership after CEO Kendall Petri and Chief Operating Officer Ninh Tran left mid-March. He said ending the year early could save the organization money and give the leadership the time needed to shut down the campus.

Lagniappe teachers and staff were quick to counter, saying they did not want to cut the children’s time in the classroom short and asking for clarification on when their last day of employment would be.

That’s when Mickley-Doyle presented the board with the plan to give existing staff additional responsibility to close out the school.

The board also has hired a consultant to help advise them in the closeout process.

Lagniappe still has to complete state LEAP and iLEAP testing along with a second round of Common Core aligned PARCC English and math testing.

The last day for students is supposed to be June 4. Whether to maintain that is one of the many decisions that will have to be made over the next two months.

The room broke out in applause when the board voted to put teachers in charge. Many members of the audience also voted ‘aye’ when the board voted on a motion calling for McCormick to resign by Friday.

“I am happy that they decided to let the teachers stay in control…because they know what’s best for the kids,” parent Alicia Parker said after the meeting.

Board member Emily Gummer stayed after the meeting with Mickley-Doyle and Li Chen to work out some initial details of the plan. Gummer said one or two board members would meet with them weekly.

* Correction: An earlier version of this story said McCormick had been teaching since relinquishing her leadership role. In fact, she has not been in the classroom. 

 

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