JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Head Start will be under new management, effective tonight.
The Community Development Institute is taking over for the Jacksonville Urban League to manage Early Head Start and Head Start.
The two programs were placed under a "summary suspension" by Office of Head Start Regional Program Manager Jeffrey Fredericks following a series of mistakes, including claims of child abuse and a child being left on a bus.
Action News has learned, in the past two years, Head Start has been cited by the Department of Children and Families eight times for using physical discipline in the classroom, nine times for inadequate supervision, and twelve times for being in poor repair.
There were bus issues at the Springfield Center. DCF Spokesman John Harrell said, "That happened a couple of times where children were dropped off with no one to attend to them." And that's not all. Documents we obtained from the Department of Health and Human Services show that on March 1st, a child was left on a bus without supervision, food, water, or bathroom facilities.
On December 19th, 2012, also at the Springfield Center, a child sustained a dislocated shoulder from a teacher lifting her by her arms.
Another serious issue was reported at the Normandy Center. "You had two people supervising children who were not even background screened, who weren't even employees at the facility," said Harrell.
"While it's not an ideal situation, we're making the best of the government's decision to insert their team to manage the Head Start programs," said Richard Danford, president of the Urban League. "Our biggest concern is that this transition does not affect the children in any negative way. That's the most important thing."
The Jacksonville Urban League told Action News the courts failed to support terminating employees for non-compliance with OHS and Urban League rules and, while there have been miscues, the Urban League is working with state and federal agencies to improve the educational experience of Head Start children.
As a result of the management changes, all 400 Head Start employees have to re-apply for their jobs, and their benefits are in question.