The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - Twit­ter: @JClink_En­qGaz

that a teacher hu­mil­i­ated a child and used a method of dis­ci­pline deny­ing him ba­sic needs. The county had un­til April 11 to cor­rect this de­fi­ciency but ACF de­ter­mined it had not been cor­rected.

Based on fol­low-up re­views con­ducted April 12-14 and June 10-17, the ad­min­is­tra­tion also found that a teacher and as­sis­tant teacher hu­mil­i­ated and used cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment on two chil­dren as a method of dis­ci­pline. It was ul­ti­mately con­cluded that the county failed to timely cor­rect those de­fi­cien­cies for which it had been put on no­tice and has ma­te­ri­ally failed to com­ply with the terms and con­di­tions of its Head Start grant award, re­sult­ing in a loss of $6 mil­lion in fed­eral funds, the letter stated.

“Our plan is to get to the bot­tom of this and hold peo­ple ac­count­able,” Board Mem­ber Ed­ward Bur­roughs III said in a phone in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “Board lead­er­ship has de­cided to act lat­er­ally in this case and not dis­close in­for­ma­tion to the board and that is unacceptable be­hav­ior.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­view, on June 15 a teacher and teacher’s as­sis­tant at the James Ry­der Ran­dall El­e­men­tary School Head Start Cen­ter in Clin­ton forced two chil­dren to hold ob­jects over their head for an ex­tended pe­riod of time as a pun­ish­ment for their be­hav­ior dur­ing nap time. The first child was cry­ing and call­ing the teacher’s name and the teacher yelled at the child and in­structed her to con­tinue to hold the ob­ject. The sec­ond child, who was also yelled at, ac­ci­den­tally dropped the ob­ject and was in­structed to con­tinue to hold the ob­ject. It was con­firmed in the re­view that the as­sis­tant teacher ini­tially asked the two chil­dren to hold empty folder boxes for jump­ing on each other’s cots and stated the Head Start teacher added heav­ier items and time to their pun­ish­ment if they moved or dropped the items. The school’s Head Start di­rec­tor con­firmed the events oc­curred and stated they were re­ported to Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion de­ter­mined the school sys­tem did not en­sure staff abided by the stan­dards of con­duct re­quir­ing them to use only pos­i­tive meth­ods of child guid­ance and not en­gage in cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment, emo­tional or phys­i­cal abuse or hu­mil­i­a­tion.

“An in­ci­dent as im­por­tant as this is unacceptable that this was never placed on the agenda for dis­cus­sion or for a for­mal or in­for­mal de­brief­ing,” said Bur­roughs, who rep­re­sents Dis­trict 8 where the in­ci­dent took place at James Ry­der Ran­dall. “I believe it is ab­surd that mem­bers of the board had to learn the de­tails of these cases from the me­dia.”

“This or­deal hin­ders the Head Start pro­gram and those 934 stu­dents. It should be the No. 1 is­sue that the board faces — not so much board gov­er­nance bick­er­ing or board gov­er­nance pol­i­tics, but how we en­hance and ad­vance the Head Start pro­gram,” said Board Mem­ber K. Alexan­der Wallace, rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Dis­trict 7. “I was no­ti­fied, and so was the pub­lic, on April 14 at our board pub­lic work ses­sion. An agenda item was posted as a fol­low-up item. There were sev­eral mem­bers not present at that board work ses­sion and board ex­ec­u­tive ses­sion. It is dif­fi­cult for me to un­der­stand the con­cerns that my col­leagues have when they say that they were not no­ti­fied. The dif­fer­ence should be they were not prop­erly no­ti­fied. … If their is­sue is that there should have been a stand-alone, sep­a­rate de­brief­ing, then I con­cur with those sen­ti­ments.”

Wallace said it’s disin­gen­u­ous for some of his col­leagues to say that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was a cover-up or was not prop­erly in­formed of such is­sues.

“You can give the doc­u­ments and the no­ti­fi­ca­tion and proof that there was an in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­der­way, but if you did not have the due dili­gence to read it, then you can­not say that you were not told,” Wallace said. “As a gov­ern­ing body of the school sys­tem, we should be on one ac­cord in terms of progress.”

Bur­roughs was one of five board mem­bers who asked County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern L. Baker III to seek the re­moval of Eubanks and Board Vice Chair­woman Carolyn A. Bos­ton af­ter learn­ing about the in­ci­dents of abuse for the first time. In a letter that was signed Mon­day, fel­low board mem­bers Bev­erly An­der­son, Zab­rina Epps, Ver­jeana M. Ja­cobs and Sonya Wil­liams cited a lack of con­fi­dence, ac­count­abil­ity and trans­parency in the board lead­er­ship.

“As we have pre­vi­ously stated, the county ex­ec­u­tive is very an­gry over the sit­u­a­tion,” said Scott Peter­son, a spokesman for Baker’s of­fice. “Kids are his first pri­or­ity and top pri­or­ity and he will make sure none of these ser­vices are un­in­ter­rupted to the stu­dents and par­ents who are cur­rently in­volved in the Head Start pro­gram. [Baker] has con­fi­dence that [school sys­tem CEO] Dr. [Kevin] Maxwell, Dr. Eubanks and Vice Chair Bos­ton will quickly and ag­gres­sively ad­dress this is­sue. He has no plans [of ter­mi­nat­ing any­one at this time].”

The board of ed­u­ca­tion will hold a pub­lic meet­ing Aug. 25 to dis­cuss op­tions in mov­ing for­ward, Wallace said.

“I’m not look­ing for­ward to the bick­er­ing of adults,” he said. “I’m look­ing for­ward to the pro­gres­sion and pro­tec­tion of the Head Start pro­gram.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.