The Los Angeles Urban League was attempting Monday to persuade federal officials to rescind a decision withholding funds for the agency's Head Start program, a decision that some employees said could prevent opening of classes for nearly 800 disadvantaged children today.
There was no indication as to whether the Urban League would go ahead with the program in the hope of obtaining the funds later on a retroactive basis.
The Urban League program involves 15 sites in East and South-Central Los Angeles as well as about 150 teachers, assistant teachers, nurses, social workers, nutritionists and other employees.
The problem, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles Public Schools, which administers Head Start here for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is that the Los Angeles Urban League board of directors does not include representation by parents of children enrolled in the program as required by the federal government.
Other local agencies operating Head Start classes reportedly faced the same situation, but complied in time to have fall session funding approved.
The county schools spokesman said John W. Mack, president of the Los Angeles Urban League, wrote to Roy Fleischer, regional director of HHS's Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYF), to ask for more time to straighten out the problem and that the school district supported his request.
Fleischer turned Mack down, however, the spokesman said.
On Monday, Urban League parents chairwoman Vivian Spry wrote to Dodie Livingston, ACYF's Head Start commissioner in Washington repeating the request because the full Los Angeles Urban League board will not meet until later this month and the situation cannot be rectified before then.
Spry said Urban League officials were not aware until Aug. 17 that Fleischer had decided not to fund the agency's fall Head Start program.
Neither Fleischer nor Mack was available Monday to discuss the matter.
Mayme Davies, Urban League Head Start director, said only, "It's just personnel practices and procedures that we're trying to iron out. And of course, if we don't get it ironed out, we won't."