District's error means no Detroit Head Start programs next year

Detroit Public Schools fail to submit Head Start application on time

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - Detroit Public Schools will not be offering low-income preschoolers Head Start programs next year.

The program is not funded -- not because of government shutdowns or Washington cut-backs, but because DPS did not get its application in on time.

Nine hundred students were served by Head Start, but the nearly $5 million to fund their pre-school education is no longer there because those responsible for getting the application in had technical difficulties uploading a digital file.

Summer break is almost here while Joyce Hendrix and her colleagues don't know whether to pack up and go home or leave their materials ready for fall.

"I'm really appalled and I couldn't believe when I was told that we were not granted," said Hendrix, a teacher at Greenfield Union Head Start.

Detroit Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski said they're just trying to get this fixed.

"We're not denying the fact we screwed up. But that's in the past, now we're looking at how to rectify the problem," she said.

The district is assuring parents and teachers that replacement programs are coming. Instead of the federally funded Head Start, they will enter the state's Great Start pre-school. In fact, they believe they can enroll 544 more students. However, the state money through Wayne County and other federal grants are not yet approved.

"We've applied for it and we have heard that we've been denied. We're getting verbal cues that they support us," said Zdrodowski.

The district sent out a release hailing an expansion as if funding were secured. One key lawmaker says that's dishonest and worries whether the state will rescue Detroit for the second time this year.

"I think it's highly unlikely," said Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit. "Once they find out that these dollars are requested because of an opportunity missed, I think the chances are slim to none."

Zdrodowski is optimistic.

"There has been a thorough investigation that's been conducted and appropriate measures will be taken," she aid.

Hendrix worries for the students.

"We service children who are very much in need and in need of these experiences that they can't get from home," she said.

Even if they get more funding, make no mistake there's still waste here. That state money could have been used elsewhere if the fund grant wasn't bungled.

Copyright 2014 by ClickOnDetroit.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.