School drops plan to recoup money

Lycée Français de la Nou­velle-Or­leans pub­lic char­ter school will not seek re­im­burse­ment for al­most $30,000 it paid to a for­mer prin­ci­pal after she re­signed, de­spite an audit find­ing that the pay­ment was never ap­proved by the school’s gov­erning board.

That’s ac­cord­ing to one of two news re­leases the school is­sued Wednes­day that ad­dress a num­ber of ques­tions sur­round­ing lead­er­ship and gov­er­nance at the school. They include the qual­i­fi­ca­tions of Lycée’s cur­rent in­terim chief, the res­ig­na­tions of found­ing prin­ci­pal Jill Otis and her suc­ces­sor Jean-Jacques Grandiere and the school’s hir­ing of a local law firm.

Ac­cord­ing to the news re­leases:

Otis re­signed in April 2012, but was paid through July 6, 2012. Ac­cord­ing to one news re­lease, Lycée board Pres­i­dent Jean Montes said for­mer board pres­i­dent An­drew Abrams “de­cided to ac­cept her res­ig­na­tion ef­fec­tive on a date and in a role that was not clear in­stead of im­me­di­ately or with a short de­fined tran­si­tion pe­riod.”

“Nev­er­the­less,” the state­ment reads, “the Board has no plans at this time to seek re­imburse­ment of the pay­ments made to Ms. Otis, de­fer­ring to Mr. Abrams’ de­ci­sion and pre­fer­ring to con­cen­trate on the school’s fu­ture.”

Grandiere was paid for six weeks fol­low­ing his No­vem­ber res­ig­na­tion and also re­ceived pay­ment for two weeks of per­sonal leave. The re­lease does not say how much that amounted to. “Montes,” the state­ment reads, “be­lieves this pay was fair, con­sid­er­ing Mr. Grandiere was avail­able and as­sisted with the tran­si­tion after his de­par­ture, in­clud­ing of­fer­ing ad­vice and co-sign­ing checks until a new sig­na­tory could be processed by the bank, pro­vid­ing ser­vices that were nec­es­sary for the school dur­ing that pe­riod.”

In­terim CEO Gisele Schexnider, who was hired in No­vem­ber as aca­d­e­mic di­rec­tor and to pro­vide short-term lead­er­ship for the school, was cho­sen in part be­cause of her French roots. “In ex­plain­ing why the Board opted for Ms. Schexnider over any can­di­date with a teach­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the French gov­ern­ment, Board Chair­man Jean Montès noted that Ms. Schexnider was raised in France and is a prod­uct of and strong ad­vo­cate for the French cur­ricu­lum,” the re­lease says.

The school has hired at­tor­neys Lee C. Reid and Jaimmé Collins of Adams and Reese to help the school re­spond to “nu­mer­ous pub­lic record re­quests from The Lens.” The state­ment says that while the firm has pro­vide pro bono as­sis­tance in the past, “for­mal rep­re­sen­ta­tion at this time is a good in­vest­ment.”

Reid and Collins are also rep­re­sent­ing the school, Montes and board mem­ber Paige Saleun, who are de­fen­dants in a law­suit filed by Dar­leen Mipro, a for­mer teacher who claims they de­famed her char­ac­ter in the process of fir­ing her.

Ear­lier this week, The Lens re­ported de­tails of Schexnider’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions fol­low­ing the Jan. 25 re­lease of her re­sume, a doc­u­ment The Lens first for­mally re­quested in writ­ing on Dec. 12.

In its sec­ond year, the 340-stu­dent Lycée has strug­gled to re­tain lead­ers, en­dur­ing the sud­den res­ig­na­tions of two prin­ci­pals. The board in No­vem­ber voted to cut $200,000 from its bud­get after learn­ing of an $85,000 deficit.

Now, state lead­ers have stepped in to as­sist the school in its search for a per­ma­nent CEO.

This story is published in cooperation with the Internet news site The Lens,
http://www.thelensnola.org.