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EAST LOS ANGELES : Azteca to Appeal Loss of $2 Million

March 07, 1993|MARY ANNE PEREZ

Azteca Head Start plans to appeal a recent decision by the county Office of Education to strip the organization of $2 million in federal funding.

County officials cited financial and other problems in deciding to withhold the federal money from Alhambra-based Azteca, which serves about 700 children in 13 schools in Alhambra, Bell, Boyle Heights, City Terrace and Montebello.

In the last three years, under Director Rosanne Ghiazza, Azteca has violated federal regulations by refusing to accept children with disabilities or who were not toilet-trained. In 1990, Azteca was ordered to return $76,000 in mismanaged funds, including money used for unauthorized air fares and checks made out to cash, according to a county spokesman.

Although officials assured teachers and parents that the local Head Start programs, which serve a total of 2,000 poor children, would continue, teachers contacted last week said they are afraid for their jobs until the county finds another organization to run a Head Start program in the area.

"These kids need the program, first off," said a teacher who asked that her name be withheld. "We don't want the program to fall for them, and a lot of us are single parents who have nowhere to go."

Last summer, teachers picketed the Alhambra offices, protesting Ghiazza's management of the program and accusing her of unfairly withholding earnings. They have called for her resignation and have appealed to Azteca's board of directors as well as the county board of education. The teachers and Ghiazza are currently involved in a lawsuit regarding the disputed wages.

Ghiazza did not return calls last week, but a spokesman for Azteca said the organization will file an appeal with county education officials.

The agencies had until Friday to appeal, but they must relinquish control of their programs on July 1 to the county until the appeals are decided, according to the spokesman.

The decision affects 1993-94 funding.

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