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Valley-Santa Clarita Head Start Cited for Program Deficiencies

August 13, 2003|David Pierson | Times Staff Writer

An embattled Head Start program that serves 1,385 children in the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita was cited by Los Angeles County for its lack of uniform lesson plans and other shortcomings, officials said.

The Latin American Civic Assn., which operates the federally funded preschool program, has been scrutinized in the last year by its oversight agency, the county Office of Education, after parents and employees made accusations of fraud and mismanagement.

A special county audit released in January corroborated some of those charges, including inadequate logging of volunteer hours to generate in-kind funding and failure to provide mental health care in some of the agency's two dozen sites.

The latest findings maintain there was a lack of supervision at some sites, accounting procedures were inadequate, parents on the policy committee were not consulted in decision-making, one facility lacked accessible restrooms for students, and some office employees did not get required health exams.

The review, done periodically on all Head Start agencies, was completed June 30. The Latin American Civic Assn. has until Sept. 30 to respond to the findings.

The association's executive director, Irene Tovar, did not return requests for an interview Tuesday.

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