PORTAGEVILLE -- Last month's temporary closing of the Sikeston Head Start Center has resulted in the termination of four employees.
Delta Area Economic Executive Director Vonnie Hays-Adams said she can't reveal specifics about the terminations because some of the former employees may file litigations against DAEOC.
The situation began around Feb. 10 when DAEOC, which oversees the Head Start program, decided to address four major parent allegations dealing with medication, child behavior and transportation and one natural disaster at the Sikeston Center, which was a plumbing problem.
These issues were federal Head Start licensing and Missouri Group Day Care Center violations -- and some are both, she said.
"We have had the building inspected two times and no mold was found. We have reports from sanitation and daycare licensing to verify the building is safe and sanitary for both staff and children," Hays-Adams said, adding the other issues were corrected.
All of Sikeston Head Start's classrooms are open and have been open since Feb. 22, Hays-Adams said.
Following the week of the Sikeston center's temporary closing, DAEOC faced a federal review of its 17 centers, and among its recommendations were policy revisions, one of which addressed weapons.
"In the past if a child brought a weapon to school, our policy said we sent that child home. They're saying to meet federal standards, we have to let that child remain in the Center and safe for all of our children and doesn't exclude any of the children," Hays-Adams explained.
The weapons issue arose after a Head Start student brought a toy weapon to school, Hays-Adams said.
Other policies DAEOC was asked to revise include child behavior and the center's potty training, Hays-Adams said. These are efforts to eliminate the possibility of exclusion of children from Head Start Services, she said.
Another issue addressed in the federal review was individual educational plans for special needs children. Hays-Adams said a number of children are still waiting to get those from 32 public schools, but she didn't fault the schools for DAEOC's failure to comply with federal guidelines.
Hays-Adams pointed out DAEOC didn't experience any funding loss as a result of the review, and there were no findings in fiscal management or human resources.
"Actually the review went fairly well," said Hays-Adams who recently resigned from her position due to family reasons.
DAEOC will receive a report in approximately 45 days and corrective actions we will be taken if they have not already, Hays-Adams said.
Despite all of the confusion over the past month, Hays-Adams said parents have been understanding.
"We've had great parent support," Hays-Adams said. "There may be some who were upset, but once they understood theperameters, they were fine."