ReNEW SciTech Academy Violated Special Education Law And State Testing Policy

Feb 1, 2016

A New Orleans charter school violated special education law and state testing policy. That's according to a new report from state education officials.

The report, released Friday, found leaders at ReNEW SciTech Academy committed several violations. They lied about the number of students with disabilities, and about the amount of extra help students needed in order to get more funding. Then the school used that money to fill a $300,000 budget gap. At the same time, it didn't provide adequate support to special education students.

The two leaders, who stepped down last May, also encouraged teachers to look over completed test booklets, so they'd know what material might show up on next year's state test. That violates testing rules.

SciTech serves about 750 students from Pre-K through 8th grade. It's part of the ReNEW network, one of the city's largest charter operators.

Patrick Dobard is superintendent of the Recovery School Distrct.

"Going forward, the [state education] department and the RSD, we've developed a set of corrective actions that ReNEW Schools must complete in order to avoid remaining in breach of their charter contract," Dobard says. "And if ReNEW fails to complete the corrective actions satisfactorily, they will be subject to increasing consequences."

That could include losing all six of its schools. ReNEW has until June 30 to meet the state's requirements. Among them: provide make-up services to students with disabilities.

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