Los Angeles Office of Education (LACOE) withdraws its claims against Kedren Community Health Center Head Start Programs

To Our Friends, Community Members, Supporters and Strategic Partners:

For several years, Kedren provided Head Start services for children in underserved communities in South Los Angeles.  In fact, Kedren was the largest Head Start delegate agency administered by the Los Angeles Office of Education (“LACOE”), one of the largest Head Start delegates in the nation, and had provided quality preschool and early educational programs to thousands of children in need.  That all changed in December 2013, when LACOE issued a report to the Los Angeles County Board of Education (the “County Board”) that accused Kedren of fraudulently manipulating its Head Start enrollment and attendance data (the “Report”).  Specifically, the Report accused Kedren of intentionally failing to remove ineligible students from its attendance rolls.  LACOE threatened to deduct $1.6 million from Kedren’s Head Start budget and to report the matter to the Office of Inspector General.

Only there was no fraud.  LACOE had been mistaken.  LACOE’s staff had misunderstood the standard Kedren applied to determine when to terminate student enrollments – a standard that LACOE had in fact approved.  Four months later, after further investigation, LACOE withdrew its claim regarding failure to remove ineligible students from the rolls.  While its contract with the Office of Head Start required it to report all “suspected acts of fraud” to the Inspector General, LACOE made no such report regarding Kedren.  Instead, LACOE simply concluded its months-long investigation and reported to Kedren that it was reducing Kedren’s $16,231,032 budget by $128,436.88 due to its finding that in certain cases attendance had been reported “erroneously.”

Unfortunately, by the time LACOE completed its investigation, the damage had been done.  LACOE had repeated its fraud claim to the County Board, the California Department of Education, the Office of Head Start, and at least one local news outlet.  Kedren was forced to relinquish its Head Start contract.

To clear its name and protect its reputation in the community, Kedren brought suit against LACOE for defamation.  Pursuant to settlement of that lawsuit, LACOE has agreed to, among other things (i) remove LACOE’s 2013 Report and any link to the Report from its website; and (ii) provide Kedren with the enclosed letter, which confirms that after completion of its investigation into Kedren’s Head Start attendance recordkeeping LACOE imposed no charges other than the $128,436.88 budget reduction for “attendance days that were incorrectly reported and/or unsubstantiated by documentation.”

Los Angeles Office of Education (LACOE) withdraws its claims against Kedren Community Health Center Head Start Programs

As we move forward, and put these unfortunate circumstances behind us, we are grateful for your support and do hope that all of you, our friends, fellow community members, supporters and strategic partners, will continue to place your trust in Kedren.

Very truly yours,

John H. Griffith, Ph.D. P