Parish Council: Head Start Policy Council hijacks meeting

Parish Council Aug 21 2017

The Policy Council for the MLK Head Start Center is calling for justice over the fact that its members feel Parish President Rick Nowlin has “stepped beyond his boundaries.”
Policy Council Chair Shirley Layton and Community Rep. Dr. Gloria Smith spoke at the Parish Council meeting Aug. 21.

An amendment was made to move the Head Start discussion to the top of the agenda and a motion was also made to suspend the time limit rule for speakers to give Layton and Smith adequate time to explain their side.

While there were several accusations tossed about the room and a lot of laws quoted, the overall gist of the problem was elusive to find amongst the overload of information. While the Policy Council feels it has been operating legally, there are allegations that it’s been violating open meeting laws, bringing into question the validity of decisions it’s made.

At the end of the day, the attorney that represents the Parish Government stated that everything Nowlin has done concerning the termination of former Head Start Director April Wade was in compliance with the policy manual (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW FOR AN OFFICIAL OPINION ON THE MATTER).

The grantee is the Natchitoches Parish Government, the governing body is the Parish Council, the Head Start Agency is the Office of Community Services and the six centers it operates fall under Head Start Programming. As such, April Wade is not listed as a “Department Head.” The Parish Council is only required to approve hiring and firing when it concerns department heads.

Council member Russell Rachal filed a Public Information Request for Policy Council meetings and questioned Layton as to why he’d never received it. Layton responded that she feels she isn’t legally obligated to notify the Parish Council members of anything.

“All such records are public records,” said Nowlin.

Policy Council members also demanded the reinstatement of Wade, because they need a director at the MLK Head Start Center.  However, Nowlin announced he’s already tendered an offer to Chriscella Metoyer to serve as interim director.

“I had the authority to take the steps I did and it’s over with,” said Nowlin. “Everything I’ve done has been with the District Attorney’s approval.” Rachal agreed with this, saying Nowlin is authorized to make an emergency appointment when such a situation arises.

“The Policy Council doesn’t accept your appointment,” said Layton. “We call for an impasse.”

Parish Council Chair Patsy Ward Hoover said she’s spoken with a representative from the Regional Head Start Office in Dallas. Hoover claims she was told the Policy Council is the governing body for the MLK Head Start. “If it’s not in that blue book, I’m not listening,” she said. The blue book is the Head Start Program Performance Standards. Addressing Wade, she added, “We didn’t do what we were supposed to do by you as the Parish Council…It’s far from over.”

The Policy Council and Parish Councilman Chris Paige argued with the attorney over whether Wade is considered a federal or parish employee. The attorney said she is a parish employee, but this didn’t appease those who thought otherwise.

HR Coordinator Cathy Creamer requested to speak and Hoover was reluctant to recognize her. Creamer said the representative from the Regional Head Start Office stated at a training event that the Director is a Parish employee, which the Policy Council members in the audience denied.

When asked if the Policy Council is currently operating legally, all past events/decisions put aside, the members loudly said yes, but the attorney said that such a decision should be made in a court of law in Natchitoches Parish. However they disagreed on this too, saying it should be taken to a federal court.

Nowlin said everyone would have to agree to disagree over how the law works, however the DA’s Office is planning to visit with the Regional Head Start Office in Dallas to get a final opinion on the matter.

Another agenda item made Monday night’s meeting last over three hours. With Councilman Doug de Graffenried absent, Hoover and Paige voted against an item concerning insurance for Parish employees not once, but twice. With Rachal and Rodney Bedgood voting yes, the Council found itself in a stalemate.

“This means we’ll run the risk of no one having insurance,” said Treasurer Debbie Miley, who warned that deadlines are approaching and approval is needed immediately.

Hoover shrugged and said, “That’s the vote.” However, at the very end of the meeting, Hoover brought it back up with a motion to reconsider and everyone voted to keep the same agents to seek insurance for the Parish for 2018.

Other agenda items included:
Appoint Matthew Faircloth to the Natchitoches parish Fire District No. 1 Board

Revise 2017 Operating Budget for criminal jury/law enforcement, civil defense, public safety, general fund, highway, government building, health unit, library, solid waste, coroners and sales tax

Execute an intergovernmental agreement with the taxing entities of Natchitoches Parish for the sale of adjudicated properties

Approval proposed merger of the Robeline-Marthaville Water System with Sabine Water District No. 1

Consider RFP for new server
Approve intergovernmental agreement from the Federal Off-System Bridge
Rehabilitation and Replacement Program

Obtain plans and specifications for the construction of a handicap ramp at the main courthouse entrance on Church Street, to advertise for bids

Execute cooperative endeavor agreement with the LA Dept. of Veterans Affairs

District Attorney Office – Opinion on the Subject


12 thoughts on “Parish Council: Head Start Policy Council hijacks meeting

  1. How many of you have had children in Head Start? My daughter went to Head Start in Dallas, where the regional office is located, in 1992! My daughter graduated from the University of Texas on a full academic scholarship in Kinesiology, in May, 2010! Head Start is the best of all federal programs because in help poor people with early childhood development in a holistic way when ran properly! We just need the right people to administer the program!

  2. Really?!?! It must be successful because it has been continually funded?? You’re joking right? The biggest problem with this is that most want to treat it as a jobs program.

  3. This problem is easy to solve, close down the whole Head Start program which studies have shown has no provable education benefits and besides that is a total waste of money. Would love to see a real audit on this program in Natchitoches.

    • Paul it’s is a good start for most of these kids. I’m sure in some cases it’s just a babysitter!! But at least it’s gives some of them a starting point. I know a couple of the teachers and they work their butts off to help these kids and prolly care more then school teachers do. I know it’s not supposed to be a lunch program but the breakfast and lunch is most likely the best meals some of these kids get. Like a lot of programs the money and the BS all the attention goes to the morons running the thing and very little to do with the teachers and the kids. Natchitoches needs to keep this program,but needs to clean house at the upper level. In my opinion they need to move one of the teachers into the lead chair. Get the egos out. And ban the three stooges from the build.

    • I would love to see audits on a lot of programs, especially the School Board, Parish Council, the city, etc. lets put all of them out there don’t single out Head Start because the majority of its employees are African Americans. I don’t know where you get your ideas from that this program have no provable benefits you should find out about the program that’s been in existence for over 50 years, funded never been cut, under a number of Presidents, Dems & Reps, so it must have been successful to still be in business. So just because you said what you said is an our right lie and I can prove it!!

    • I agree but sad but true. This is not the first time. There’s 3-4 other post on here about the headstart program and if you read them you will see its always about the idiots running the thing and the teachers and kids are never mentioned. Power trips, egos and the three stooges!

  4. Those 2 and the other one ARE ALWAYS trying to stir the pot. They try to be big shots and always come off looking like fools.

  5. With Hoover ‘leading the charge’ and Paige ‘carrying her water’ it seems likely that Head Start will become Late Start. …total waste of time trying to re-establish the hiring and firing practices of the parish.

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