The co-founder of ReNEW Schools charter network is leaving the organization following a tumultuous year that included a scathing state-issued report on special education and cheating at one school and his demotion from CEO.

Gary Robichaux will retire Sept. 30.

He founded ReNEW in 2010, after working in the Recovery School District. In the summer of 2015, while the Louisiana Department of Education was investigating the network, it opened its sixth school.

Robichaux’s name and position could not be found on the network’s website in late August. ReNEW spokesman Scott Satchfield said Robichaux is still employed and the website was being updated. After The Lens inquired, Robichaux was added and listed as Philanthropy Coordinator. We also requested a job description.

The Lens received payroll records through a request under Louisiana Public Records Law that show Robichaux has earned $833.33 in each bi-monthly pay period over the last two months. That’s an annual rate of about $20,000. He earned $154,000 last year as CEO.

Robichaux stepped down as CEO in December as the state was finishing its investigation into SciTech Academy. He moved into a newly created “chief advocacy officer” position and kept his same salary. Colleen Mackay became CEO.

Mackay had ignored a whistleblower’s warning about the scheme SciTech Academy principals used to get more cash for students. The co-principals had a “magic number” of students who needed to be tested and classified as needing special education. Because special-education students bring in more state money, they would make up the elementary school’s $300,000 budget deficit. She sat on other warnings too.

This year, she’s earning $175,000, according to payroll records.

ReNEW’s President Kevin Guitterrez, who recently rejoined the network, is earning $174,500. He reports to Mackay.

In regard to Robichaux’s current position, board president Stephen Rosenthal said Robichaux was “winding up some stuff” and referred The Lens to Mackay.

Satchfield shared an email Mackay sent to ReNEW staff in June describing Robichaux’s plan to phase out of his position.

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...