Parents frustrated with early ending to Head Start program at Detroit school

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

DETROIT - Local 4 reported last week that Detroit Public Schools will not be offering low-income preschoolers Head Start programs next year because the program didn't receive the $5 million in funding it needs when the district failed to submit its application on time. But to the surprise of parents, one DPS school is putting an end to their Head Start program much earlier than expected, three weeks early to be specific.

"I dropped my daughter off at school Monday and they told me not to bring her back after that, that school was over," said Brandon Gibson, whose 5-year-old daughter is in the program. "This is just crazy. This is so last-minute, especially for parents who have to work. What are we going to do?"

Gompers Elementary and Middle School is considered a "priority" school with DPS. That means Pre-K students through eighth grade attend class through July 8, at least that's what some parents thought.

"Their last day is on the 7th of July with a ceremony on the 8th," said Gibson.

A letter sent home to parents on Tuesday alerted them that their child's last day with Head Start was Monday.  Why? Due to the lack of funding from the district. Imagine parents' confusion.

"I can't believe they waited to the last minute to tell the parents like this," said Ebony Carpenter, who has a niece in the program.

Head Start students like Gibson's daughter, Damiyah, were scheduled to go on a field trip to Huckleberry Farms. According to the letter, the field trip was canceled. But Gibson says thanks to the Head Start teacher Kimberly Woodfolk, the students won't miss out.

"Ms. Woodfolk is volunteering to go. She's not getting paid for it. That's how much she loves the kids," he Gibson.

While the program did end early, parents were told the students "Moving Up" ceremony will still be held on its regular date, July 8.

Detroit Public Schools statement:

Gompers staff made an attempt to reach all PreK Head Start parents yesterday to tell them that the field trip scheduled for today is not canceled and their children can participate. It is true that the Head Start Extended Year program cannot continue due to the lack of Head Start funding. The district vigorously explored other funding options to cover the cost of Extended Year Head Start at Gompers and other schools but no funding could be identified. We regret the lack of notice to Gompers parents and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this school-level communications breakdown has created.

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