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Charter school head, ordered removed from her job for nepotism violation, gets temporary reprieve

A New Orleans charter school CEO who state ethics judges ruled must lose her job for repeatedly violating state anti-nepotism laws has won temporary reprieve from the judgment.

One month after a three-judge panel upheld an earlier decision in the case, Doris Roché-Hicks was granted a suspensive appeal Wednesday. That effectively suspends the state Ethics Adjudicatory Board’s ruling until the state First Circuit Court of Appeals in Baton Rouge renders a decision in the case. That could take months.

Roché-Hicks has led Friends of King Schools for more than a decade. She’s remained employed throughout her appeal of the June decision. Her attorney has said they are appealing the judgment to clear her name.

He has also said she plans to retire in December.

In 2013, The Lens reported that Roché-Hicks employed six relatives at her charter organization, including two whose employment appeared to violate ethics law.

A year later, the Louisiana Board of Ethics filed charges against Roché-Hicks, her sister, daughter and son-in-law, alleging they violated nepotism and ethics laws.

The case dragged on for years. After the two sides couldn’t settle the case, the Ethics Adjudicatory Board held a hearing in February and issued a ruling in June.

The ruling found various nepotism and ethics law violations and all four were ordered to pay a fine. Roché-Hicks’ daughter was ordered to return the money she made on a contract that judges found was improperly executed with her mother.

Roché-Hicks’ attorney Willie Zanders Sr. has argued a range of legal exceptions apply to her family members that would preclude them from violating nepotism laws. But the ethics judges didn’t agree.

The Orleans Parish school district did not respond to a request for comment for this story. After Roché-Hicks was ordered to leave her post in June, a school district spokeswoman said the district would monitor her appeal.

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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.