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Investigating John White’s Teaching Experience: The Emails (Part II)

September 13, 2017

On June 08, 2016, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) issued the third of three administrator’s certificates to Louisiana state superintendent John White.

That final certificate, “ed leader level 3” (EDL3), requires the bearer to have a minimum of five years of teaching experience in an area of certification (see Bulletin 746 for specifics). However, John White only has three years of teaching experience in an area of certification. Even so, he was granted EDL3.

Between April and July 2017, I wrote a number of posts on this issue (click here to view).

Furthermore, between July 01, 2017, and August 24, 2017, I submitted to LDOE 11 public records requests related to John White’s EDL certification, mostly for emails spanning December 2015 to June 2016 and resulting in hundreds of pages of emails in response.

On September 11, 2017, I published the first of a series of posts based upon what I gleaned from those 11 public records requests.

In sum, here is what I learned from the email exchanges featured in that first post:

  1. John White expected and sought a shortcut means of acquiring Louisiana’s ed leader credentials. And why not? He was a deputy superintendent in New York without applying for any formal credential. He was then briefly New Orleans Recovery School District (RSD) superintendent without applying for any formal credential, on his way to becoming Louisiana state superintendent (again) without applying for any formal credential. However, in the case of his applying for Louisiana’s ed leader credentials, there was no shortcut available. He would have to meet the same certification requirements as any other applicant, including completing certification tests and submitting for formal review letters of recommendation, college transcripts, and evidence of his experience as a certified classroom teacher.
  2. The director of licensure, Barbara Burke, was willing to assist White and to answer his many questions, both via email and phone. However, she did not bend even when White dropped the corner-cutting hint about being allowed to dodge the current, detailed application process in favor of a process that was discontinued in 2008. From the emails examined in the first post, it is clear that Burke planned to treat White’s application with fairness and without favoritism.
  3. Early in the process (December 07, 2015), White acknowledged that his “number of years in the certificated area” was an issue that needed addressing, and Burke clearly responded that if White chose to pursue EDL3, he “would need to appeal to TCAC (Teacher Certification Appeals Council) in March [2016– the next TCAC meeting] to ask for two years of leadership experience to be used in lieu of the two years of teaching” that White lacked in order to have the required five years of teaching in an area of certification necessary to be granted the EDL3 certificate.


A number of email exchanges transpired between Barbara Burke and Vicky Thomas, John White’s “confidential assistant” (her actual title) on December 07, 2015, and with Burke, Thomas, Asst. Supt. of Talent, Hannah Dietsch, and (copied but not responding) Asst. Supt. of Policy/ Govt. Affairs, Erin Bendily, on December 08, 2015, all of which centered around discussion of what documentation White needed to submit for the EDL certifications.

Burke met with Thomas on December 07, 2015, a “meeting before the meeting,” so to speak, before participating in a meeting by phone with White, Thomas, Dietsch, and Bendily on December 08, 2015, all of which centered on discussing what White needed to do for those EDL certifications.

However, it is important to note that prior to the December 08, 2015, phone meeting that included White, Burke emailed White and copied Thomas, Dietsch, and Bendily with the email included in my first post in which Burke advised White to file an appeal with TCAC over his having only three years of teaching experience in an area of certification and needing five. She also attached Bulletin 746, which includes the five-year certificated teaching requirement for EDL3 certification.

Here are Burke’s words, in brief (entire email is included in my first post):

I feel the Ed Leader 3 route is the best option. It will require you to appeal to TCAC in March to ask for 2 years of leadership experience to be used in lieu of the 2 years of teaching.

The reason this background is important is that by December 09, 2015, Burke believed that White would not file an appeal– a necessary component for his being awarded EDL3 certification, assuming TCAC approved his appeal. As Burke communicated to LDOE Education Program Consultant and certification colleague, Regina Poole:

From: Barbara Burke
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2015 11:18 AM
To: Regina Poole
Subject: Fwd: Quick question on ESEA reauthorization

Just Fyi, Gina. Don’t share.

I’ll call you in a little while.

I have a mtg to go to about the ESEA reauthorization at 12:30.

Then I have a mtg with Vicky about John’s application. I don’t think he is appealing to Tcac. I’ll know more this afternoon.

Both of these items are confidential.

Thx so much

Keeping you in the loop!


Sent from my iPhone

Indeed, White did not file an appeal. As per the minutes of the March 2016 TCAC meeting, White was not on the agenda. This is not unexpected given that he changed his mind and chose not to apply for EDL3 prior to the March 2016 TCAC meeting. Since there was no formal denial of his EDL3 application, there was no decision to appeal.

This March 2016 TCAC meeting was the only meeting held prior to Regina Poole’s approval of White’s EDL3 application on June 08, 2016.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

On August 01, 2017, I filed a public records request with LDOE as follows:

From: Mercedes Schneider []
Sent: Tuesday, August 01, 2017 10:39 PM
To: LDEPublicRecords <>
Subject: FOIA John White TCAC

In her email to John White (dated 12-08-15) Barbara Burke wrote the following regarding John White’s application for ed leader 3 certification:

“I feel the Ed Leader 3 route is the best option. It will require you to appeal to TCAC in March to ask for 2 years of leadership experience to be used in lieu of the 2 years of teaching.”

As per Louisiana Public Records Statutes, please provide:

Any documentation related to John White’s appealing to TCAC as per Barbara Burke’s suggestion noted above, or any documentation related to John White using 2 years of leadership experience in lieu of 2 years of teaching.

Thank you.

–Mercedes Schneider

I received this response from LDOE, dated August 24, 2017:

LDErecords 08-24-17

The above public record response confirms that any and all discussion of White’s lacking the necessary five years of certificated teaching necessary for EDL3 certification was just that– discussion– and it happened behind closed doors and yielded no formal appeal to TCAC to substitute any of White’s other professional experience for the additional two years of certificated teaching experience that he lacks to this day.

Had White followed through on his original plan to apply for EDL1, 2 and 3 at the same time, as indicated by Barbara Burke’s December 04, 2015, email to Regina Poole (“Hey Gina‐ this is for John‐ anything missing. He is applying for ed leader 1, 2,3 at the same time using the ed leader packet.” See first post for complete email), then Burke would have undoubtedly issued a denial connected to White’s lacking the requisite five years of certificated teaching experience.

This would have left a record– formal denial of EDL3 connected to White– and likely a second record– White’s formal appeal to TCAC.

However, on January 19, 2016, Dietsch emailed Burke and altered White’s original intention to apply for all three EDL certifications.

I’ll pick up there in the next post in this series.

john white 5  John White


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

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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?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

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  1. Robert Tellman permalink

    It would be interesting to know if Ms. Poole has gotten a promotion and raise in pay for her “services” to the superintendent. Will his unethical and perhaps illegal actions ever cease?

  2. In your last paragraph, did you mean to say email of January 19, 2016 rather than 2017?

  3. WOW. Excellent job Mercedes! These people think they are above the law……and apparently they are because they continue to get away with it and they are NEVER held responsible for their criminal actions. Corruption, lies, abuse of power, forgery……it never ends. They do whatever it takes to put “their people” in place. It’s so pathetic and unfortunately it’s happening in every state. It’s sickening what they continue to get away with.

  4. LA Educator permalink

    Thanks, Mercedes, for your tireless efforts in exposing the lack of legitimate credentials of this charlatan!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Investigating John White’s Teaching Experience: The Emails (Part III) | deutsch29
  2. Investigating John White’s Teaching Experience: The Emails (Part IV) | deutsch29

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