The TM Landry Prep Fallout
Dec 07, 2018 10:31AM
By Dwayne Fatherree
UPDATE 12/13/18 - By Flint Zerangue
More allegations of abuse and misconduct have surfaced against T.M. Landry College Prep in Breaux Bridge since the New York Times story broke some two weeks ago. Now, the Louisiana State Police have begun an investigation in coordination with local law enforcement agencies in response to the allegations. To date, there has been no public response to the allegations from T.M. Landry Prep.
Parish News we will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.
Original Story 12/07/2018 - By Dwayne Fatherree
The viral video of Ayrton Little opening his Harvard University acceptance letter, a week after his older brother Alex was accepted to Stanford University, made the young men media darlings. They made the rounds of syndicated talk shows last year. News outlets called for interviews. Well-wishers applauded the brothers and the school, TM Landry Prep in Breaux Bridge, that they attended.
But with that adulation and attention came a spotlight that cast a long shadow over the school in early December when the New York Times published a story detailing school founder Michael Landry’s history of abuse and violent temper as well as allegations of academic fraud. The story also questioned the value of TM Landry’s educational methodology, painting the school and its owners, Landry and his wife, Tracey, as choreographers of a grand charade that has left scores of students behind their peers and ill-prepared for the college rigors they faced upon graduation.
The story, based on interviews with 46 current and former students and parents, court documents detailing Michael Landry’s plea of guilty in 2013 to a charge of simple battery, copies of erroneous transcripts and multiple interviews with the Landrys, led the school to issue a statement Friday evening through its lawyer.
“As a result of the article published today by The New York Times and in the midst of running the daily operations of the school, Michael Landry and Tracey Landry, the owners of T.M. Landry College Prep Foundation (“T.M. Landry”), have received multiple inquiries into the substance of the article and have not responded to some,” the statement read.
Tracey and Michael Landry, owners of T.M. Landry College Prep Foundation.
File Photo: Face Media Group LLC
“As such, they are in the process of consulting with their attorneys and plan on providing a more substantive press release hopefully early next week. They are steadfast in fulfilling their obligations to their current students and future students to continue to afford all children the opportunity to get the education that they deserve. They appreciate the continued support and prayers of the communities they work so hard to serve."
State Sen. Fred Mills said Monday morning that the article in the Times has made him question the lack of oversight for private schools like TM Landry.
“I know this is hot off the presses, but it raises some issues,” Mills said. “This is something that I will have high on my list.”
The Landrys started the school as an offshoot of their own homeschooling of their own son. Because they do not accept any government funding, they are exempt from the reporting requirements and regulations that govern other schools. Consequently, TM Landry is not a state accredited school.
Calls to the school for comment were not returned. As of Monday morning, the school’s attorney has not released any other statements.
The school had planned to create two new campuses, one in Lafayette’s Northgate Mall and a second in Opelousas, in a building the Diocese of Lafayette donated to the school. The Diocese released a statement after the Times story was published Friday disavowing any connection between it and TM Landry.
“The Diocese of Lafayette operated a women’s shelter in Opelousas for many years in a building located at 411 East Landry Street and transferred the operation of the shelter to a facility in Lafayette, leaving the building vacant since April 2018,” said Diocese Director of Communications Blue Rolfes in an emailed statement. “On November 14, 2018, the Diocese donated the building to the TM Landry College Prep Foundation. The Diocese has no interest, by ownership or otherwise, in the TM Landry Prep Foundation and is not affiliated with it in any way. The donation was made prior to these allegations being made public.”
Although a building permit was issued for renovations at the Northgate Mall location on Sept. 19, there are no records showing that any work has been done.
By Dwayne Fatherree - Freelance Journalist
Dwayne is an award-winning journalist and multimedia editor who has spent more than three decades producing multimedia content.
During his career, Fatherree has had the opportunity to work in every area of the news gathering and publishing process, from cub reporter to news editor, photographer to videographer, from page layout to news director. A graduate of USL, he has made Acadiana his home for the better part of the last 40 years.