Head Start teachers worried about not getting paid on time

Head Start teachers worried about not getting paid on time

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - First, there was a management shakeup at the agency that oversees the Head Start program in Harrison County. Now, questions are being raised about whether the staff members will get their paychecks on time.

Several upset employees called WLOX on Friday saying they were told by their managers that they may not get paid until early next week.

WLOX visited several Head Start centers in D'Iberville and Gulfport and noticed the campuses were quiet, but there seemed to be an uproar over the payroll this week.

Friday is supposed to be pay day for hundreds of employees at the Gulf Coast Community Action Agency.

The attorney for GCCAA, Dean Holleman, told WLOX News the person who handled payroll for the agency left her job last Friday, so the paperwork did not go out in time for approval by the Head Start regional office in Atlanta. Plus, he said the Columbus Day holiday on Monday held up the process even more.

Several callers who identified themselves as Head Start teachers told us they're more worried about their jobs since the recent management shakeup at the agency.

Last month, we told you that four leaders, including the executive director, were suspended over allegations of mismanagement of federal funds. Now, we've learned that all four have been terminated.

The former Executive Director, Dr. Barbara Coatney, sent WLOX this statement Friday:

I was surprised by their actions to terminate me Oct. 7, in a called board meeting. GCCAA had their first clear audit of all programs since 1995 under my leadership, and I met and exceeded all goals established for the past year. This job is over, but my only regret is that I am not able to serve the clients and finish the work that I was doing to improve Head Start/Pre-K education for the children of Harrison County.

Holleman confirmed that along with Coatney, the deputy director, chief financial officer and the Head Start director are no longer with the agency.

As for the payroll, Holleman initially told us the employees may not get paid until next Tuesday or Wednesday, but later, he said instead of direct depositing the money, the agency issued written checks to the employees Friday afternoon.

Holleman said the board has not hired anyone to fill the four vacant positions, and added that the changes are not affecting any services provided by the agency.

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