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Fight to save Head Start

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Updated: 5/17/2013 7:58 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Pastor R.L. Gundy is furious. On behalf of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, he's saying: Enough is enough.

"There's no legal justification for shutting down 24 sites and putting the kids on the street," he said.

CDI Inc. pulled the plug on Head Start earlier this week, citing unqualified teachers and child safety violations. That means after today 1,500 children won't have a place to go. Gundy says it was a premature decision, which is why his group, among others, are filing an injunction.

They're asking for the decision to close the facilities to be reversed and that students be allowed in school for at least the next three weeks. Gundy also wants CDI to release its safety inspections and for parents to sign and submit petitions.

So far, at least 200 have done so.

"I work hard. I have to take off work to go and find other placement for my daughter," Lashana Porter said.

Leaders at the top have joined in on the fight. Senator Audrey Gibson sent out this statement today: "There has been an agreement reached to have CDI at least look at alternative sites put together by a coalition of clergy and others, to determine if those sites can meet the needs of the 1,500 children who would be displaced after today. While there is not guarantees this hour, I am hopeful for beneficial resolution."

Gundy says for the sake of the kids he hopes so. He believes the issue is far from over, and predicts there will be more to deal with when the smoke clears.

"The Head Start program will remain in Jacksonville. The question is: who's going to run Head Start in Jacksonville?" he said.

Sen. Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Corrine Brown are also showing interest in the fight to keep Head Start open.
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