Audits Reveal Record-Keeping Issues at New Orleans Schools

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans school district’s audit of public high schools’ record-keeping has revealed problems that could impede graduation for some students if left unresolved.

The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reports that district documents show several charter high schools were struggling in the fall with issues related to how the schools track student grades and other records.

The district regained control of all city schools last year. The state had taken most city schools over after Hurricane Katrina and developed an all-charter system before handing control back to the local board. Now, the city’s school district is working to provide oversight in a system involving 38 independent, largely autonomous charter organizations.

The audit showed some schools failed to keep students’ records up to date; others were missing standardized and course test scores. In some instances, there wasn’t proof of credits earned from classes. And in other cases, student files were missing critical items needed for seniors to earn diplomas.

“This is the first attempt to standardize a city-wide approach to monitoring high school graduation processes in a decentralized system,” spokeswoman Dominique Ellis said in a statement attributed to the district. “Our current focus is to ensure that no student is unfairly hindered due to the way that schools plan for and document progress toward graduation. As we set new expectations for schools we anticipate that it will take time to adjust and comply.”

Some schools said this past week that they had already resolved the issues highlighted by the district, while others said they were still working to do so.

In October, the district decided to review transcripts and other documents for all high schools under its authority, marking the first time officials embarked on such a project since regaining authority over all local public schools last year.

At the time, schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. said he was motivated by the scandal at John F. Kennedy High School, where dozens of students were unable to graduate on time in 2019 after multiple investigations exposed grade-fixing and systemic credit-related problems.

So far, results have been made public for eight high schools, with 17 others not yet available.

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