Collins was school’s 1st female, lay leader
New Orleans — Karen Collins, the first woman and first layperson to serve as president of St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, resigned Monday, the school confirmed.
The school released a brief prepared statement that shed no light on the reason for Collins’ departure or the school’s plans to replace her.
“Dr. Karen S. Collins has resigned from her position of President of St. Augustine High School. We are grateful to Dr. Collins for her service and dedication to this institution, and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors,’’ the statement said.
“Through this transition, we will continue to move forward in fulfillment of our mission to our students to be the training ground for leadership through academic excellence, moral values, Christian responsibility and reasonable, consistent discipline,’’ the statement concluded.
Collins was hired in June.
Her predecessor, the Rev. John Raphael, left after a dispute over corporal punishment in 2011 that thrust the school into the national spotlight.
The school’s Josephite trustees and Archbishop Gregory Aymond had decided to end the use of corporal punishment at the all-male Catholic high school, a change that triggered outcry from parents, students and alumni.
Collins was hired after what Troy Henry, president of the St. Augustine School Board, described last fall as a rigorous nationwide search. He acknowledged then that some “traditionalists’’ expressed doubt about having a woman lead an all-male school.
Collins pointed out, in an interview with The Advocate in the fall, that there are all-female Catholic schools in New Orleans with male leaders.
She pointed to a 10 percent increase in enrollment at the 61-year-old school, which had a student body of 667 students in the fall semester.
Collins, who was raised in New Orleans, was principal of Francis Gaudet Elementary School before Hurricane Katrina and Sarah T. Reed High School after the storm.