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Former employees protest at JCCEO Head Start

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 4:34 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Friday, Head Start employees, those who work in early intervention programs for pre-school children, were supposed to get their usual paycheck, but that didn’t happen. The JCCEO, which is facing allegations of financial mismanagement, informed them this week that there isn’t any money to pay them.

It’s a tough position. These workers could try and file a lawsuit to get their money, but that won’t be easy. The Chairman of the JCCEO Board of Directors, Gary Richardson, said the board planned to pay the employees who and get them their back pay.

On Friday, a number of JCCEO Head Start workers took to protesting in front of the JCCEO building near Legion Field. “You know you got people who got kids. People have to pay bills. We have people that is how they live. They need their money,” Randal Smith, former JCCEO Head Start worker said.

Smith said this group just wants owed to them. Richardson told WBRC the agency is working to make the workers whole, including pay for six days of work, money to their 401-K and paying for insurance until the end of the year. These workers are worried about making ends meet until they get paid. “It even affects me health wise because with this happening. I don’t even have the health insurance I had. So, it affects us all the way around,” Perdita Bradley, former JCCEO Head Start worker said.

Smith said this group just wants owed to them. “Pay us what you owe me. That is all we ask, just pay us what you owe me,” Smith said.

Head Start took federal grant funds from JCCEO because of the allegations of mismanagement. A temporary private company has taken over the Head Start program. CDI will re-hire some of the workers at a reduced rate. Some of the former employees are taking the jobs others are not. “I refused. I gave 24 years to JCCEO and to be told my time would not transfer and I would have to come and take a base rate pay? No,” Bradley said.

Richardson said the agency is expecting some cash to come from invoices for the work has been done. He didn’t have a timeline when the money would be available or just how much money is expected to be available.

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