Gentilly Terrace Elementary School houses Audubon Gentilly. Credit: Marta Jewson / The Lens

Audubon Charter School Gentilly has failed to conduct employee criminal background checks in line with state law, according to a NOLA Public Schools district warning letter sent to the school last month. 

“All Audubon Gentilly employees are screened for employment via the Child Care Civil Background Checks (CCCBC) process, as opposed to adhering to the requirement that any staff of a K-12 school have background checks submitted to the Louisiana Bureau of Criminal Identification,” district accountability chief Litouri Smith wrote. 

The warning comes as the school district appears to be monitoring background check quality more stringently following an investigation into James M. Singleton Charter School uncovered alleged fraud. The probe resulted in the arrest of Singleton’s chief former financial officer Catrina Reed, who resigned along with its CEO after the district made its initial findings public in March. Reed, who was arrested in June and released shortly after on a non-cash bond, has not been formally charged by the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office. (She has since been released from her bond obligations due to the lack of formal charges.) 

The warning issued to Audubon, however, is not nearly as serious. 

State law requires all schools to run background checks through the LBCI, an arm of the Louisiana State Police. The law has been on the books since 1986. But it appears Audubon Gentilly has employed a separate background process used for early childcare centers, not K-12 schools. 

School spokeswoman Heather Harper said the school has been using the other background checks for the past four years. The school opened in 2018. 

“Because of Audubon Gentilly’s early childcare component, the school has been using the LDOE required Childcare Civil Background Checks System (CCBCS) for its employees for the past four years. This is an intensive background check required for early childcare providers, the results of which are sent to the LDOE for review,” Harper wrote. “All employees have passed this background check.”

“This is the first year the school has been asked to conduct an additional background check,” Harper added. 

“Since this request, all employees have completed the state required background checks, as well as the CCBCS early childhood background checks at Audubon Gentilly,” Harper said on Monday. “We are still awaiting the results of the additional background check, which were completed and sent off a few weeks ago.”

The school received a letter of good standing from the district on Dec. 10 after submitting new background checks through LBCI in mid-November.

This story was updated to reflect Audubon Gentilly’s return to ‘good standing.

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...