Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans

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A young Lycée Français student reads to herself during the annual Fête de la Musique

Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans is a public charter school with two campuses in Uptown New Orleans, serving students from 3-year-old pre-kindergarten to sixth grade with a curriculum based on the French system. The school opened in 2011.

The Lycée Français de la Nouvelle Orléans emblem


Performance and admissions

Lycée Français has not received a School Performance Score from the state, as the school has yet to add a third grade, in which state testing begins.

The school concluded its application process for the 2013-14 school year in January of 2013, selecting students through third grade in a lottery. For the 2014-15 school year, Lycée Français will be among the schools required by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to participate in a common enrollment process created by the Recovery School District and governed by the Orleans Parish School Board[1]. In October of 2013, the board of directors voted in favor of a plan for the 2014-15 school year to allow 33 4-years-old students paying tuition in the pre-kindergarten program, to gain automatic admission into the public kindergarten, followed by a lottery for 72 more seats with preference to at-risk children. [2]

OneApp system | The school announced in January that it received a surge of 208 kindergarten applications and over 400 applications total for the 2015-2016 school year with the OneApp system. 69 of the applicants were rising 4-year-old preschool students, and 149 are new students, said school CEO Keith Bartlett. The school’s projected class of around 150 students will seek to have 67 percent low-income students. [3]

Board of Directors | The school's current CEO is Keith Bartlett. The current Board of Directors are: Tim Gray, Chairman; Alysson Mills, Vice-Chair; Courtney Garrett, Treasurer; Ann Meese, Secretary; Ben Castoriano; Dr. Erin Greenwald; Mary Jacobs Jones; Lisa Tropez-Arceneaux and Michael Williams. The school is accepting applications for additional board members. [1]. After controversy and mass exodus of board members in 2012, a team of consultants and state experts designed one of the most rigorous processes in New Orleans for selecting new members of the LFNO board including requiring six hours of annual training for board members. [4]


Lycée Français opened in the fall of 2011 with two sections each of 3-year-old pre-kindergarten, 4-year-old pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Three of the sections were housed at First Presbyterian Church on South Claiborne Avenue, and three were housed in classrooms at the Audubon Zoo.

Lycée Français location on Patton Street

Expanding the curriculum | The following spring, the school's governing board decided to accelerate its growth by adding a second grade[5], in addition to the rising first grade, despite the objections of some administrators and board members[6]. Amid questions about the legality of accepting tuition-based preschool students into a public kindergarten[7], the school also pledged to grow the kindergarten large enough to accommodate all students who applied, preventing the need for an admissions lottery. In April of 2012, founding principal Jill Otis announced that she would be resigning at the end of the school year[8]. In December 2013 the school announced that it will add a fourth grade for the 2014-15 school year, bringing its total number of classrooms to 21. The current facility in the St. Francis of Assisi church on Patton Street could probably accommodate those students, but not the 27 classrooms projected to be needed in the 2015-2016 school year, board member Mary Jacobs Jones said. [9]

A new location | In 2011, Lycée Français announced the lease for the next school year of the St. Francis of Assisi school building on Patton Street (over the objections of its former tenant, Milestone SABIS[10]). The youngest students remained at the church on South Claiborne, but most others moved to the Patton Street campus. No classes remained at Audubon Zoo on a permanent basis, but the school formed an agreement to rotate individual classes through the zoo campus for short stints. The Patton campus was largely undamaged in Hurricane Isaac.

Controversy intensifies, November 2012-January 2013

The budget deficit | Administrative controversy followed Lycée Français into its second year. In November of 2012, the school board announced that they had discovered a deficit in the previous year's budget[11], and several staff members had been laid off as part of $200,000 in cuts to shrink the budget to about $2.9 million[12]. Later in November, the board announced that the school's founding director, Jean-Jacques Grandiere, had resigned after several weeks' absence[13]. A special-education coordinator filed a defamation suit against the school after she was fired amid allegations of "misconduct" and charged with trespassing during a disturbance during her dismissal[14], and board president Jean Montes hired Gisele Schexnider, a French teacher at Louise McGehee School, to serve as interim director[15]. In the Jan. 10, 2014 board agenda meeting, Bartlett announced that expected enrollment was down by 5 slots which meant that income from the State Minimum Foundation Program would be about $45,000 less which puts recruitment at the top of the 2014 agenda. [2]

From left, charter-school advocate Caroline Roemer Shirley, state official Raphael Gang and consultant Jeremy Hunnewell field questions from an audience of about 100 people at Lycee Francais in January 2013

Racial diversity | During the last few months of 2012, school board meetings began drawing more than 100 parents at the time. Complaints about the school's racial diversity and alleged lack of outreach to at-risk communities reached the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education[16], and some parents began filing formal complaints about decisions made by the board to state officials[17], while others wrote letters defending the board.

Administration and leadership | Finally, state Superintendent John White announced an unprecedented partnership in which the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools would pay for a private consultant to assist the school in its preparation to find a new director[18]. In January of 2013, Caroline Roemer Shirley of the association, Raphael Gang of the state Department of Education and consultant Jeremy Hunnewell appeared at a board meeting to tell parents that the school's academics and finances appeared to be on track, but that Lycée Français was demonstrating weaknesses in "governance," and that their project would seek to identify problems and solutions across the leadership spectrum.[19]

Controversy settles 2013-14

New Administration | Following the controversial staff and administration reform at the Lycée school in 2012-2013, the abrupt resignation of the school's Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Jacques Grandière came just weeks after the school discovered an $85,000 budget shortfall. In June 2013, the Board of Directors announced four possible Interim CEO candidates at their committee meeting. Keith Bartlett was given the school's CEO position after much deliberation and searching. The possible candidates were: Ghislaine Bazir, an assistant head of school at Lycee Francais in Chicago and educator for more than 30 years in France; Joseph Daschbach, a former co-principal at Lagniappe Academies in New Orleans; Marina Schoen, a nearly 20-year veteran of New Orleans schools, now teaching with some administrative duties at Lusher and a teacher at Audubon Charter before that; and Bartlett. The school’s CEO search committee had narrowed down to two candidates, said Lycee board member Erin Greenwald, but voted unanimously to offer the job to Keith Bartlett because of his experience leading a number of schools including John Dibert Charter School in New Orleans and, most recently led Alice Boucher World Languages Academy in Lafayette, La. [20]Bartlett agreed to a $90,000 salary and is allowed to spend up to 10 work days consulting with his former employer, Louisiana A+ Schools Foundation, which includes mentoring other principals, according to his 2013-2014 contract with the school. [21]

Growth and expansion

In 2017, the school secured the use of the former James Weldon Johnson elementary school building as a temporary space for grades 3 through 8 starting in the 2017-18 school year.

The school also began preparations to launch its high school[22], starting with the ninth grade in the 2019-2020 school year, and decided on a curriculum that will allow students to pursue at least five different degrees and certifications.

See also


  1."ISL, LFNO to be placed in centralized admissions process next year," Nov. 14, 2012
  2. "Lycee Francais seeks to add diversity to school leadership," Oct. 6, 2013
  3. : "Lycee Francais sees surge in OneApp applications as old issues still linger," Jan. 13, 2014
  4. "Lycee Francais seeks to add diversity to school leadership," Jul. 8, 2013
  5."Lycee Francais seeks to add second and third grades, drop French-proficiency requirement for first grade," Jan. 9, 2012
  6."Lycee Francais board member resigns after effort to remove another," May 14, 2012
  7."French-immersion charter schools dispute allegation that their admissions favor the wealthy," Nov. 19, 2011
  8."Principal to leave French charter school at year’s end," April 2, 2012
  9. "Lycee Francais explores expansion to nearby St. Paul’s church," Dec. 9, 2013
  10."Milestone SABIS Academy criticizes church’s selection of Lycee Francais as new tenant for school," Nov. 22, 2011
  11."Facing unexplained budget hole, Lycee parents and teachers brace for cuts," Nov. 8, 2012
  12."Lycee Francais cuts current year’s budget by $200,000 to ‘focus on solvency’," Nov. 12, 2012
  13."School director at Lycee Francais resigns; two board members to lead in interim," Nov. 24, 2012
  14."Lycee Francais sued for defamation by special-education coordinator who was fired last month," Dec. 19, 2012
  15."Lycee Francais board approves hiring of interim CEO, but closes discussion of decision to reporters," Dec. 10, 2012
  16."Lycee Francais questioned on racial diversity, outreach issues before state board," Oct. 16, 2012
  17."Lycee parents request state investigation of board’s actions," Jan. 8, 2013
  18."State superintendent selects consultant to assist with Lycee Francais leadership issues," Dec. 22, 2012
  19."State intervention team promises to address Lycee Francais leadership issues," Jan. 14, 2013.
  20. "Lycee Francais selects new leaders for school and its governing board," Jun. 27, 2013
  21. "School leader signs on with Lycee Francais," Jul. 2, 2013
  22. "Lycee Francais preparing to launch French-curriculum high school in two years," April 12, 2017
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