LSU Lab School has hired the founding principal of its crosstown sister institution, Mayfair Lab School, to oversee elementary grades.

LSU Lab announced the hiring of Christa Bordelon Leon, principal of Mayfair Lab since it opened in 2013, late Thursday in an email to parents. She replaces Myra Broussard, who was recently demoted after 11 years as elementary principal; Broussard filed suit earlier this month against LSU, seeking damages.

Leon submitted her resignation to the East Baton Rouge Parish school system on July 15 and started working a week later at LSU Lab School, which is on the LSU campus at 45 Dalrymple Drive. The school has scheduled a parent meet-and-greet with Leon on Aug. 1.

Replacing Leon at Mayfair Lab is the school’s assistant principal, Jessica Mitchell. Mitchell was among a group of applicants interviewed earlier this week by a panel of school system administrators and parents with Superintendent Warren Drake making the final call.

"The outpouring of support that I have had from our families and faculty at Mayfair through this process of becoming principal has inspired me and shown me more than ever that this is my family," Mitchell said via email. "Together we will continue to advance our academics and expand opportunities for students, as well as continue growing our sports program, and environmental efforts."

Mitchell has served as Mayfair’s assistant principal since 2016, coming there after a stint as dean of students at Glasgow Middle.

LSU Lab School was formed more than a century ago as a laboratory for LSU students training to become teachers. The school has evolved into one of the state’s highest-performing public schools, with an A letter grade and about 1,500 students in grades kindergarten to 12. Unusual for a public school, students are charged tuition to attend. It is independent of the parish school system.

In 2013, LSU extended the franchise with the launch of Mayfair Lab, on the campus of the former elementary school at 9880 Hyacinth Ave. As part of its partnership with East Baton Rouge, the new school was organized as a selective magnet school, beginning with grades kindergarten to 3. It quickly earned an A letter grade, which it has kept ever since even as it has added grades. It’s now a K-8 school with about 430 students and is set to be rebuilt in 2025 at a cost of $30.1 million.

During Leon’s tenure, Mayfair Lab also has been recognized as a magnet school of distinction and in 2017 earned a Green Ribbon award from the federal government for its focus on environmental education.

Leon has 15 years of experience as a principal, including a long tenure as principal of Twin Oaks Elementary in Baton Rouge. Before that, she was an assistant principal at Northeast Elementary in Pride. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in education from LSU and a master’s degree in education from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.

Attempts to reach Leon for comment Friday were unsuccessful.

Leon arrives amid leadership turmoil at LSU Lab School.

Her predecessor, Broussard, claims LSU defamed her when it accused her and another top administrator of trying to pocket money from an after-school program and potentially violating university policy. Broussard's suit also names as defendants LSU and two administrators — Amy Westbrook, superintendent of the lab school, and Roland Mitchell, interim dean for the College of Human Sciences & Education, which oversees the Lab School.

Longtime LSU Lab School administrator Frank Rusciano, who co-ran the after-school program with Broussard, has been on paid leave since January and his status remains in limbo.

LSU in June referred Rusciano's case, which includes other accusations unrelated to the after-school program, to the Louisiana Board of Ethics for an advisory opinion.

Both Broussard and Rusciano were named in a state audit, released in March and covered in news reports, alleging they were creating a private company so they could pick up additional money from an after-school program for students at the prominent Baton Rouge school, running afoul of university policy.


Email Charles Lussier at clussier@theadvocate.com and follow him on Twitter, @Charles_Lussier.