John M. Singleton Charter School, a New Orleans-based charter school, landed in the headlines earlier this year due to a highly publicized controversy concerning employee background checks. Less than one year later, the school is back in the news—this time for rehiring an employee whose background check should have made them ineligible to work for a school under state law.
In March, the New Orleans-based Dryades YMCA—operator for John M. Singleton Charter School—was caught falsifying background checks for some of the school’s employees. NOLA Public Schools subsequently launched a detailed investigation into the falsification and found that one staff member at Singleton was hired despite a criminal record that included an offense involving a minor. Under state law, that crime would have barred the Dryades YMCA from hiring the employee.
In the wake of the investigation, the CEO and CFO of the Dryades YMCA both resigned their posts, and the CFO was arrested. Now, John M. Singleton Charter School and the Dryades YMCA are back in the news based on reports that the school terminated and then rehired the employee whose criminal record rendered their employment a violation of state law.
Dryades and the school are also in the midst of a lawsuit against NOLA Public Schools, which attempted to revoke Singleton’s contract during the summer. That revocation would have forced the school to close before the start of the current school year. However, Dryades responded to the revocation by suing the school district. In turn, a judge granted the YMCA a temporary restraining order, which kept the contract in place and allowed Singleton to reopen this fall.
Even without the revocation, Singleton’s contract with NOLA Public Schools is set to expire at the end of the current school year. Due to the rehiring of a formerly flagged employee—among several other concerns—the school is not currently able to meet the minimum standards that would allow for district contract renewal.
If Dryades YMCA cannot resolve the issues that it has with NOLA Public Schools, John M Singleton Charter School is unlikely to continue operating beyond the conclusion of the 2021-22 school year without finding a new operator.
This case is a notable one for other school and district leaders to consider based on the way that the controversy connects to background checks. Had school leaders conducted employee background screening protocols by the book in the first place and then abided by state law by disqualifying candidates whose records made them ineligible for hire, they could have avoided most of their current challenges.
At backgroundchecks.com, we provide a range of employee background screening solutions, including teacher background checks, bus driver background checks, volunteer background checks, and background checks for other specific roles. We also offer ongoing criminal monitoring, which can help schools and school districts keep an eye on more recent developments with criminal activity.
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.