Students have opened a fire-escape door on the third floor of ReNEW’s building on Carrollton Avenue and walked down onto the adjoining roof, according to police. A school spokesman said safety precautions prevent the door from being locked from the inside.

Police have been called to ReNEW Schools’ building in Carrollton twice this fall after a student opened an unlocked fire-escape door on the third floor, walked down onto a roof, and refused to leave.

The McNair building on South Carrollton Avenue houses a therapeutic program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, serving children with behavioral issues. It also houses several pre-kindergarten classes.

The therapeutic program serves “what I would describe as some of the neediest kids in the city, who require additional levels of psycho-social support, academic support, and support around behavior,” said ReNEW president Kevin Guitterrez.

The door in question is on the third floor of the building. Stairs outside lead to the ground and to a roof over a single-story portion. A second-story fire exit also leads onto the roof, which is lined by a four-foot tall ledge, Guitterrez said.

ReNEW spokesman Scott Satchfield said the door is locked from the outside, but for safety reasons it can’t be locked from the inside.

The Lens asked Satchfield how the charter network responded after the first incident, and how it is making sure students, including pre-kindergartners, can’t access the roof.

He declined to answer, instead responding with a written statement that ReNEW takes “security, safety and privacy very seriously.”

One incident occurred on Oct. 26.

An officer went onto the roof and took the student down in handcuffs, said Dawne Massey, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans Police Department.

The student was taken to Children’s Hospital, she said.

On Nov. 29, police were called because a 13-year-old refused to come down from the roof, Massey said. It’s unclear whether the student came down before the police arrived; no police report was filed.

When I went to check out the building Friday, I saw a student walking down the stairs as he argued loudly with a teacher standing below. The student was escorted to a school bus, and the teacher declined to comment.

NOPD records show two incidents of battery of a schoolteacher in November on this block, both involving a 13-year-old boy and more than one teacher.

A spokeswoman for the Recovery School District didn’t respond to a request for comment before publication.

This story was edited after publication to include additional details of the roof and fire escape layout and about ReNEW’s therapeutic program. (Dec. 5, 2016)

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...