Charter Schools
 

Plessy Community School hires interim head of school for permanent post

Homer A. Plessy Community School’s board of directors will hire its acting Head of School Meghan Raychaudhuri permanently after another candidate declined the position.

The board voted 5-4 Tuesday night to hire Larisa Gray, a former teacher and administrator at two other charter schools. But she declined the offer the next day.

Parent Kelly Williams was happy to hear Raychaudhuri would stay on, saying that’s “absolutely the best thing that could happen for the majority of kids at the school.”

Board President Alicia Bendana said she broke a 4-4 tie to hire Gray at Tuesday night’s meeting. The motion included included the option to hire Raychaudhuri if Gray declined, according to draft meeting minutes.

Raychaudhuri has worked for the Recovery School District and Firstline Schools and has a law degree from Tulane University, according to Plessy’s website.

Bendana said Thursday the board and Raychaudhuri had not yet settled on a salary.

Plessy pays Raychaudhuri $90,000 a year in her dual role as acting head of school and director of operations, according to state data.

Gray taught at Lusher Charter School, where she attempted to form a union with several coworkers. She went on to work as an administrator at Einstein Charter Schools, where she earned $94,733 annually, according to state data.

Williams, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, said the board’s hiring process lacked transparency. She complained that the board conducted interviews with candidates in private meetings, which appears to be allowed under state law.

“I think the hiring process was a total, chaotic mess,” Williams said.

Some charter schools have held interviews in open sessions and others have held them behind closed doors.

Board member Chris O’Neill, who headed the search committee, said it conducted interviews with a parent panel, a teacher panel and the committee itself.

He said Plessy’s board knew ReNEW Schools got in trouble last year for not properly notifying the public about its search committee meetings and consulted its attorney to make sure it followed the law.

Plessy, a D-rated elementary in the French Quarter, has 248 students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, according to state records.

Founding Principal Sara Leikin resigned just months into the first academic year, in November 2013. Her replacement Joan Reilly left the school last May.

That’s when Raychaudhuri took on head of school duties in addition to her job as director of operations.

“I think Plessy’s got a bright future with Meghan,” O’Neill said.

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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.