A Louisiana School Is Under Fire For Abusing Students, Faking Transcripts & Doctoring College Apps

A Louisiana private school has become embroiled in national controversy following the publication of an investigation completed by The New York Times, alleging the school doctored college applications and abused its pupils.

T.M. Landry College Preparatory School in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, has been lauded since its opening in 2013 for sending marginalized, black students to top-notch universities—with students attracting national attention through viral YouTube videos and Ellen appearances

However, the apparently high-achieving school was a façade for a much darker mission, supported earnestly by T.M. Landry’s founders, Michael and Tracey Landry.

In interviews conducted with 46 students, parents, teachers, and law enforcement agents, The New York Times discovered a pattern of abuse and lies that had enabled the Landrys to intimidate their students into compliance. One student, Bryson Sassau, stated that once he had been accepted to St. John’s University in New York, he reviewed his application.

He realized that the Landrys had not only doctored his transcript, but they had made up a supposed non-profit he had founded. To further add insult to injury, they played into racist stereotypes, claiming that his father was an absent and abusive drunk who withheld money from Sassau’s family. Sassau claims that his father has always paid child support, and he has never endured abuse at his hands.

Additionally, The New York Times article exposed the cycle of abuse at Landry—with reports of Mike Landry hitting and even choking students who were performing below academic standard.  Even more disturbingly, there were several reports of Mike Landry bullying students with disabilities—going so far as to lock them in a closet.

According to the investigation, Landry’s control over the families does not stop even after students choose to leave T.M. Landry. He has withheld transcripts and doctored grades, making it hard for students to find a better school for their needs.

Landry reportedly told The New York Times that their investigation was saying, “black students didn’t deserve the best.” Many parents of former Landry students disagree.

According to The New York Times, Landry parent Adam Broussard became concerned when he realized his eight-year-old son wasn’t writing well. After getting him academically tested, he was informed that his son was performing two grade levels behind—a common theme among younger Landry students. Some families even felt as if they were “paying for a high-price babysitter,” (Landry’s tuition is $7,200 a year). 

And even though Landry’s is a college preparatory school, they reportedly do little to prepare their students for the actual rigors of university life. According to their former students, the learning is very standardized-testing oriented—with pupils stating that “if it wasn’t on the ACT, you didn’t learn it.” One young woman, Asja Jackson, even reached out to Michael Landry about her academic struggles at Wesleyan University. His only advice was to “stick it out”—for the reputation of Landry.  She left after one semester.  

Since the article was published, the story has inspired conversations about the kinds of narratives marginalized students are expected to follow in order to get the attention of prestigious universities. More and more Twitter users have addressed how these schools play into larger cultural biases about black students — particularly those that keep these high-ranking colleges fairly homogenous while encouraging predatory schools promising access to them to grow at the expense of their students .

Despite public outcry, neither Michael nor Tracey Landry have responded yet to The New York Times investigation.