Skip to content

John White and Katherine Westerhold

July 12, 2017

On October 01, 2015, the Times-Picayune published a social scene article entitled, “All You Need is NOMA’s Love in the Garden.”

As is usual for the society pages, names of notable attendees were published, including that of Louisiana state superintendent and the woman who accompanied him (underlining added):

Others enjoying the mood were NOMA Director Susan Taylor with husband, Paolo Meozzi, event co-chairs Robyn and Andrew Schwarz and Margaret and Pierre Villere, NOMA Volunteer Committee Chair Joni Diaz with Tommy Diaz, NOMA Board President Julie George and Ted George, Elizabeth and Clifton LeBlanc, David Edwards, Winnie and Mark Brown, Anne and Edmund Redd, Marshall Hevron, Beth and Austin Lavin, Celeste Marshall, Nicole Wright and David Francis, Bryant York and Elizabeth Porter York, Janet and Scott Howard, Mandie Landry, Cathy and Morris Bart, Penny and Al Baumer, Basi and Michael Carbine, Cammie Mayer, Kay McArdle and Joe Handlin, Penny Francis with daughter Casi, Taylor Morgan, Brent Wood, Lorena O’Neil and Max Vorhoff, Katherine Westerhold and John White, and Jennifer and John Rowland.

Interestingly, in an article about the same event appearing in the New Orleans Advocate almost two months later, in late November 2015, journalist Nell Nolan chose to alter White’s name, arguably to obscure his attendance at the event– and likely, his social connection to Katherine Westerhold (underlining added):

“Love” laurels were extended to Dawn DeDeaux, Tina Freeman, Susan Gisleson, Delaney Martin, Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun as the honored 2015 artists. Further brass were the event chair couples, Robyn and Andrew Schwarz and Margaret and Pierre Villere, and their committee of 92 LOVE-rs. Also, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director Susan M. Taylor and husband Paolo Meozzi, Cathy and Morris Bart, Penny and Al Baumer, Basi and Michael Carbine, Cammie Mayer, Kay McArdlle and Joe Handlin, Penny Francis and daughter Casi, Taylor Morgan, Rodney and Jane Besthoff Steiner, Valerie Besthoff, Lorena O’Neil and Max Vorhoff, Julie and Ted George, and Katherine Westerhold and Max White. Joni Diaz chairs the NOMA Volunteer Committee.

It turns out that Max White– I mean– John White and Katherine Westerhold are an item. From Westerhold’s Facebook page:

JWKW3

February 11, 2016

JWKW2

October 03, 2016 (Apparently taken at a wedding given the FB comments on pic.)

JWKW4

January 06, 2017

and this one, posted on July 10, 2017– and which surely does look like a wedding picture:

JWKWwedding

Nice pictures. They make me wish White were a decent guy.

So much for that.

Incidentally, on the day that Westerhold posted the above picture, I was in court in Baton Rouge for the hearing about whether Ganey Arsement et al’s lawsuit regarding BESE’s missing the senate deadline for White’s approval has standing. The judge decided that in order for the suit to have standing, one among a number of high-level individuals (e.g., the governor, attorney general, or president of the senate) needs to sign on to the suit. In this regard, Arsement is seeking the public’s help with contacting the governor.

But back to Katherine Westerhold.

In 2013, Westerhold was an employee at the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE). Her job title was “fellow,” and for that, she was paid $85,000. Though she was slated to be laid off according to this April 23, 2013, memo drafted by White, according to her resume (see page 68 of this September 2015 GNO, Inc., board meeting document), Westerhold remained employed with LDOE until April 2015. An excerpt:

The Louisiana Department of Education: Baton Rouge, LA September 2012 – April 2015

Deputy Chief of Staff, Recovery School District
Chief of Staff, Talent Office

• Built and executed a comprehensive plan for supporting 1400+ schools as they implemented state teacher and leader evaluation policies
• Guided the design of a district pilot program to reduce truancy in New Orleans and led the process of evaluating lessons learned in order to
inform on-going policies
• Managed the drafting and release of a policy report outlining lessons learned from early implementation of evaluation policies
• Co-led efforts to educate district constituents about new compensation legislation, oversaw the review and approval of each district’s overhauled
plan for compensating teachers, and managed relationship with technical assistance provider
• Provided staff and project management oversight to an office of 20+ employees, conducting weekly check-ins with multiple director-level staff,
coaching them through planning related to policy implementation and troubleshooting implementation-specific challenges

Westerhold also spent a year and a half connected to the Recovery School District (RSD) through The New Teacher Project (TNTP) (March 2010 – October 2011).

According to her Linkedin bio, Westerhold is currently the director of policy and government affairs with the Relay Graduate School of Education located in New Orleans.

Note that Chiefs for Change– now led by John White– is formally promoting Relay Graduate School of Education as part of state ESSA plans.

Relay is also on LDOE’s list for add-on certification providers, specifically for special education certification in mild-moderate.

So, White is basically using his superintendency to plug for use of the services of an ed nonprofit in which his girlfriend/fiancée/wife holds a leadership position. But there is more.

In March 2015, former LDOE data analyst Jason France wrote about how certain upper-level LDOE employees have offices in New Orleans– nice offices at 1615 Poydras Street:

LDOE employees with multiple offices

RSD no longer directly manages any schools, it just recruits them and “oversees” them. (New Schools for New Orleans is a non-profit that already does that.)  RSD’s employees are actually extensions of the LDOE. Many LDOE employees live in New Orleans and have offices in Baton Rouge and luxury offices in New Orleans. Many of LDOE’s executive employees live in New Orleans and do all their work from the RSD offices across from the Superdome, or from the privacy of their homes – as their exorbitant conference call bills will attest to.

Sources have relayed that a non-exhaustive list of employees operating this way are:

  • · Katherine Westerhold
  • · Hannah Dietsch
  • · Alicja Witkowski
  • · Taina Knox
  • · Rebecca Kockler
  • · Kunjan Narechania

What does RSD do with all their money?

What does RSD do with all its money you ask?  Well for one thing, they like to rent luxury office space in downtown New Orleans across from the Superdome.

RSD takes up the entire 14th floor at 1615 Poydras Street. …

…some amenities:

Encompassing 508,741 rentable square feet, the Class A Property is 85% leased and serves as the corporate headquarters for McMoRan Oil & Gas.

The property’s rent rolls are dominated by high profile, local, national and international corporations including Freeport-McMoRan, ANKOR Energy, U.S. Coast Guard, Gillis Ellis & Baker, Kuchler Polk Schell Weiner & Richeson, Usry Weeks & Matthews, Duplantier Hrapmann Hogan & Maher, First NBC Bank and Regus.

1615 Poydras accommodates an on-site restaurant, a barbershop and dry cleaning pick-up & delivery services.  Our location in the Central Business District (CBD) directly across from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, provides easy access to City Hall, hotels, Canal Street shopping and the historic French Quarter.  Tenants enjoy easy walking distance to the NFL Saints Champion Square and the world-class Mercedes-Benz Superdome directly across the street.

Man, who wouldn’t want a drycleaners with pickup and delivery service and a barbershop in their office building?

Check out the gorgeous marble and mahogany floors and enormous meeting rooms overlooking the city.

Who knew being a state worker could be such a sweet deal, especially amidst a 1.6 billion dollar deficit?

Out of curiosity, I googled the address of Relay Graduate School of Education in New Orleans.

1615 Poydras Street, Suite, Suite 820 (eighth floor)

Relay and LDOE are very close. But there is still more.

The sister of La. assistant superintendent Hannah Dietsch, Hallie Dietsch, works alongside Westerhold at Relay as director of operations for New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

In this link, Hallie Dietsch is trying to raise money for New Schools for Baton Rouge, and their students who were affected by the floods. New Schools for Baton Rouge promotes Teach for America (TFA), TNTP, and Relay Graduate School of Education. In the picture, below, she is seen with Westerhold.

Westerhold-Dietsch

 

From 2008-2011, Hallie Dietsch did a temp teaching stint with TFA in New Orleans. She completed her alternate certification with TNTP in 2009, the year before Westerhold, who has no teaching certificate, worked for TNTP.

Hallie Dietsch’s Louisiana teaching certificate expired in 2012. And why not? She no longer needs it.

But is does make more sense now why John White lied about having five years of teaching experience in an area of certification in order to get that La. ed admin level 3 certification to possibly become a local superintendent when his season as state superintendent ends:

He has a significant-relationship incentive to try to remain in Louisiana even as he continues to draw a notable six-figure salary.

This is a tight-knit group, folks, the size of which definitely exceeds this post.

Taxpayer-funded corporate ed reform in Louisiana is definitely the gift that keeps on giving to them.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

9 Comments
  1. Slime Does Pay …

  2. Christine Langhoff permalink

    Guess Michelle Rhee and child molester husband Kevin Johnson are role models for reformista power couples.

  3. Linda permalink

    “Max” and Katherine look a little long in the tooth for those kinds of photos. Style over substance must be a thing in ed reform.

  4. Linda permalink

    If it’s a new wife will she be on state ethics disclosures?

  5. Sylvia K. Corwin permalink

    We should not degrade the big issues by slipping to sarcasm aaaaaaand gossip…………

    • This post establishes that White is involved in a serious romantic relationship with a woman who also benefits from White’s position as state supt. This is an issue, an ethical one, and it warrants further examination. As for sarcasm: My comments in this post are genuine, not sarcastic.

    • Sylvia,

      My quip, “Slime Does Pay”, is the abridged version of so many longer essays on the theme at hand that I have lost count and tired of repeating them, but the slightly expanded gist of it might go a bit like this:

      The country now suffers sorely from a hierarchy of self-appointed social “elites” whose entire existence is dedicated to parasiting off the work of others and the hard-earned resources that the public has sacrificed to set aside for the sake of its own common good.

    • Linda permalink

      Corwin, we can agree sarcasm in reference to the decision makers in BESE is too weak a response, it should be ridicule, legal action, and pillorying?
      If reports are correct, waiving a superintendent hiring process and qualifications makes Louisiana look like a backwater state with an unconscionable lack of interest in EEOC guidelines.
      In any state, high salaries, on the public dime, for people related to politically-appointed hacks, would be an affront to decency.
      In any state, high rent facilities, paid with tax money, would be a breach of public trust

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. About La. Supt. John White’s Father, Peter A. White (And More) | deutsch29

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: