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Jacksonville Urban League Appeals Head Start Suspension

Karen Feagins

*This story was updated on 7/3 to reflect a response from the Federal Head Start program.

The Jacksonville Urban League wants to run the Head Start programs in Jacksonville again.

The organization is appealing the government suspension of its contract. In April, the Federal Government stepped in and placed an outside management firm in charge of the 24 facilities in Jacksonville, citing safety concerns.

Attorney Earl Johnson, Jr., who is representing the Urban League in the appeal, says the government never gave them any notice or a chance to tell their side of the story.

“I’m certain that they will allege some kind of emergency," he said. "But what’s clear is the allegations set forth in the suspension letter most all involved situations that occurred in the previous calendar year-- all of which had been handled, and, as we were told, to their satisfaction.”   

Head Start is still under the management of Denver-based Community Development Institute.

Several pastors attended the press conference to express their concern that bringing in an outside management company is an attempt to disenfranchise Jacksonville’s African American community.

The Federal Head Start program did not respond directly to questions, but sent WJCT copies of the letters that Director Yvette Sanchez Fuentes sent to the ministers.

Credit Office of Head Start
Letter from Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Director of the Office of Head Start sent to several Jacksonville ministers.

Karen found her home in public broadcasting after working for several years as a commercial television reporter. She joinedWJCTin 2005 as the host of 89.9 FM’s Morning Edition and has held many different roles at the station in both radio and television. She has written and produced documentaries includingBeluthahatchee: The Legacy of Stetson Kennedy and Jacksonville Beach: Against the Tide and directed the oral history project, Voices of the First Coast.