Future of Jacksonville Head Start centers uncertain

5:13 PM, Jul 2, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Head Start Center in Springfield sits empty.

It is unclear if it and 23 other Head Start centers in Jacksonville will open for the upcoming school year.

Outside of the Springfield center on Tuesday, Rev. Dr. Darien Bolden made strong claims against the Community Development Institute, which is now over seeing the Jacksonville Head Start program.

"They have shown no respect or regard for the African American community as it relates to our children or our parents," Bolden said.

Bolden said CDI lacked communication when it attempted to close the 23 centers early and claims CDI is re-hiring people the Jacksonville Urban League was in the process of firing.

Problems for Head Start began in April when the Florida Department of Children and Families stepped in after concerns about child safety surfaced.

In one instance pointed out by DCF, a three-year-old was left on a bus all day without supervision. Investigators concluded the child might have died if it had been during the summer.

The Jacksonville Head Starts were then set to close early in May, but then 16 facilities were permitted to remain open until June 7th.

It was a yo-yo ride for parents who are now waiting to find out if the Head Start facilities will even open at all come fall.

The attorney for the Jacksonville Urban League, Earl M. Johnson Jr., said the federal government violated their own regulations.

"They did not provide an opportunity to be heard or a notice. So both constitutional and regulatory law was violated," Johnson said.

Johnson said they are appealing the suspension in Washington D.C. and calling for the Jacksonville Urban League to be put back in charge of Head Start.

Now it is a waiting game for parents as to whether or not kids will be back in these buildings come fall.

First Coast News

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