The University of New Orleans was one of the first to jump into chartering after Hurricane Katrina, and it just announced that it is closing down its charter organization, New Beginnings, as a result of a slew of academic problems and malfeasance.

After allegations of grade-fixing and a major fiasco involving class credits that left dozens of students unable to graduate, the public charter board overseeing John F. Kennedy High voted Thursday night to surrender its charters to operate both of its schools.

The surrender of the charters, which will take place at the end of the 2019-20 school year, was approved unanimously by the New Beginnings Schools Foundation board.

The decision stemmed from a lengthy investigation into management problems at the charter network that led earlier to the resignation of its CEO, career educator Michelle Blouin-Williams, and the firing of five high-ranking administrators at Kennedy…

The problems leading to the collapse of one of the city’s oldest charter organizations first surfaced in February, when the organization’s data director, Runell King, alleged that other staff members had improperly changed grades for a group of seniors who had recently taken an Algebra III class. 

King, who was fired a month later in what he said was retaliation for reporting the alleged grade-fixing, submitted documents showing that F’s were changed to D’s and D’s to C’s, a move that ultimately could have helped the school bolster its graduation rates and, in turn, improve its performance score issued by the state…

By July, the grade issues along with other management problems resulted in a determination that more than half of Kennedy’s senior class of 177 students had not actually earned enough credits to graduate.

The seniors included 69 who walked in a graduation for 155 students, but did not actually qualify to graduate. They were given folders with no diplomas during the school’s May 17 graduation ceremony, and had college or other plans thrown into turmoil as officials tried to unravel how the problems had happened.

I wonder if the Education Research Alliance at Tulane University will revise its glowing report about dramatic improvements caused by market reforms, specifically its reference to increased graduation rates.

Perhaps an audit is needed to find out how many other charters falsified their data.