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Head Start parents push for answers about short school year

8:45 PM, May 15, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A decision that impacts hundreds of parents who have children in Head Start programs are demanding some answers and an extended school year.

Last week, parents learned that Head Start is ending its school year this Friday, May 17 for nearly 1,500 students. The plan also calls for summer programs to be suspended.

"I just want to work this thing out to where students, the children can stay in school and the parents can stay at work," said LaShana Porter who said she is one of fortunate parents since she can take her four year-old to work.

The Community Development Institute since last month began operating the Head Start program as the Jacksonville Urban League was squeezed out following problems with safety issues at the center.

CDI, in a letter to parents, said it needs more time this summer to train staff when it comes to safety. That's the reason given for ending the school year three weeks early and having no summer program.

"Accountability must be for all of us and they (CDI) are not excluded," said Reverend R.L. Gundy, who is the local and state president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Gundy was among a group of pastors, elected officials and parents who went to headquarters of Head Start on Davis Street demanding some answers.

"I get my instructions from the office of Head Start," said manager Suellen Hixon who briefly met with Pastor Gundy surrounded by fellow pastors and parents.

A petition push is also underway asking the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with the Office of Head Start to reconsider decisions made that shorten the school year.

Parents plan to work for signatures at centers across the city starting on Thursday. 

First Coast News

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