ReNEW Schools will get its fourth CEO in just over two years

The CEO of ReNEW Schools has offered his resignation less than a year after taking the position, saying he’s found it hard to carry out needed changes at the troubled charter network.

Kevin Guitterrez is the third CEO to leave the post in just over two years. The network has four D-rated schools and two F-rated schools, one of which is an alternative high school.

ReNEW will shrink to four schools next year. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to close ReNEW Cultural Arts Academy, which has a D. And this summer, ReNEW will voluntarily surrender its charter for F-rated ReNEW McDonogh City Park Academy.

In an email sent Monday to board president Stephen Rosenthal, Guitterrez said he’s proud of his efforts to fix problems with ReNEW’s special-education, resolve a longstanding dispute with the state teachers retirement system and clean financial audits.

“Our current space, one of reorganization and realignment, has proven to be difficult at best,” Guitterrez wrote. “During this period, I’ve experienced challenges in both communicating the changes and in executing the realignment necessary to move ReNEW beyond this stage.

“These are both areas for which I am directly responsible. Because of this, I believe it is best for ReNEW that I step aside and allow for new leadership to move the organization forward.”

Guitterrez was hired in March after the board privately interviewed him and other candidates. The Louisiana Department of Education later determined the private interviews violated the state Open Meetings Law.

He replaced cofounder Colleen Mackay. She led the organization after cofounder Gary Robichaux stepped down a month before the release of a damning special education report.

In 2015, two principals at ReNEW SciTech Academy abruptly resigned amid questions about state testing. Officials later discovered they had pushed students through special education evaluations to bring in more funding.

Meanwhile, the school failed to provide special education services to students who needed them. The practice continued months after it was initially reported.

That led to state sanctions and an in-depth corrective action plan. The network had to track down students and make up special education services.

Guitterrez, who declined to comment for this story, will stay on until mid-March to assist with the transition, according to his email.

In an email to staff, Rosenthal said he will introduce a motion at a board meeting Wednesday to appoint Chief Operating Officer Tanya Bryant to CEO.

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About 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 to New Orleans in the fall of 2014 after covering education for the St. Cloud Times in Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with majors in journalism and social welfare and a concentration in educational policy studies.