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

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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About Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.

  • nickelndime

    Actually, what is finally happening at Lagniappe (grassroots – teachers, parents, and students) is the true substance of charter school law and how charter schools are supposed to operate. The Lagniappe Board created the original (expletive-deleted) with overpaid non-teaching administrators – not even the CEO had the professional educational licensures or credentials. Month after month, this board had no clue that the CEO and the CFO were giving them incorrect information. And why would administrators do this? It kept them employed. Now, the students are out of a school and the employees are out of their jobs. And look at what has gone on in this city with the RSD, its favorite multi-million dollar charter operators (CMOs) and state-favored nonprofits. 04/07/2015 4:56 PM

  • Karran Royal

    It’s a shame that the people left to hold things together don’t get to continue. Had BESE, LDOE and Lagniappe’s Board paid closer attention before things got this bad, the children in this school would not be faced with being distributed to umpteen different schools. From what I have seen, the teachers at this school seem very committed to these children and the fact that they stepped up and said, let us take on additional responsibilities and close this school out right, should send a signal to the LDOE to keep this bunch in place and find a better solution for this school. Sure, dump the board, let the school go to OPSB, let OPSB put in leadership and decide who on staff to keep or not. What sense does it make to blow this school apart now that the wrong-dooers are gone? This is all so crazy to me and I don’t even like charter schools.

  • nickelndime

    Yes Karran – but why is the OPSB NOT stepping up to the plate in this Lagniappe situation? I am all for locally-elected representatives (100%) as in the OPSB, but where-oh-where is Kathleen Padian (whom I believe is actually a double agent for the state but on “our” payroll)? Nolan Marshall, II represents this district. Where is he? They seem to have lost all perspective – Livingston and Reed buildings, schools closed, but John Mac has the attention? Yes, it is a shame that Lagniappe will no longer exist after June 4th – or sooner, if this board has its way. The OPSB should have stood its ground and stood up to the State and Pastorek back in 2007. Things would have gone much differently than what we are seeing unfold now. But you cannot give anybody courage and fortitude. Look closely at these 6, now 7 OPSB members. What do you think we are working with? You have a keen eye and a lot of experience, and I believe you are adaptable and open. 04/07/2015 10:23 PM