Head Start Center Manager’s Actions Raise Questions
Story by Shannon Taylor Senior Investigative Reporter
After a Dresden woman came forward regarding a NWTN Head Start Center Manager’s involvement in her custody case, concerns were raised regarding the policies and procedures involved in the program and how a Center Manager became involved in a local custody case as a key witness in the removal of one woman’s child.
Dresden’s Head Start Center Manager, Lisa Alexander, became involved in the local custody case of Jo Floyd and Yueh Feng Wu as a key witness in an injunction to remove custody from Floyd. Alexander provided an affidavit stating that the child involved had been absent so much that he was reaching the point of being removed from the program, however, Floyd stated that the child had missed due to sickness and a doctor’s note was provided. The Head Start attendance policy states that certain steps are supposed to be taken regarding absences.
If a child has two unexplained absences, the program is supposed to schedule a home visit with the child’s parents. If chronic tardiness persists, steps will be taken that include speaking with the parents, making home visits and informing the parent in writing that the child would be placed on a waiting list. Termination only occurs after all of those above efforts have been made.
No documentation has been provided showing that these steps were taken by Alexander, and NWTN Head Start has so far refused to comment on the issue.
The Head Start program provides child development services to low-income families across the region. Nearly one million children participate in the program. The mission statement for the program states, “helping people, changing lives in our community through education, partnerships, and delivery of quality services in Northwest Tennessee” and their vision states, “hand in hand, working together we are dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other to make a difference in our communities.”
An FOIA request provided information that in August 2002, Alexander was hired by the Henry County School System as a teacher. In August of 2011 Alexander was fired by the school board as a tenured teacher of almost nine years. In the state of Tennessee, a school must show cause in order to dismiss a teacher who has attained tenure status and some causes for dismissal include immoral conduct, incompetence, neglect of duty, conviction of a crime, insubordination and fraud.
Alexander was fired on charges that were presented to the board, but members did not discuss the circumstances that led to her removal and the director of schools during that time, Sam Miles, said that the attorney for the schools advised him not to.
In November a settlement agreement was reached between Alexander and the school regarding her termination. That agreement included that Alexander would submit a letter of resignation and no hearing on her charges would take place as well as no further determination concerning the charges brought against her.
The agreement also stated that any documentation relating to the charges would be removed from her personnel file and any inquiries made regarding her employment would be referred to the Director of Human Resources and/or the Director of Henry County Schools who would respond to any inquiries that Alexander voluntarily resigned from her position. The agreement also concluded that no action would be taken against her teaching license. Alexander resigned on Nov. 7, 2011.
In reviewing Alexanders criminal records, she was charged in April of 2003 with driving on a suspended license, and in April of 2012 she was charged with writing worthless checks. After speaking with two confidential witnesses, the press learned that Alexander was also charged with custodial interference/kidnapping in 2011 when she lost custody of her son, the same year she was terminated from Henry County Schools.
The press reached out to NWTN Head Start for comment on the hiring of Alexander, and asked if they were aware of her previous charges and termination and if her actions regarding involvement with a custody case followed procedures and protocols, but so far no one has responded. This reporter has been told several times when she tried to reach out that, “we’re not supposed to talk to you.”
Floyd’s felony theft case was heard Feb. 8 in front of General Sessions Judge Tommy Moore regarding Floyd allegedly stealing items from her marital home. Judge Moore asked Floyd if she was the one protesting around the square and she responded that she was. Moore looked at Floyd’s public defender and said, “this woman wants justice, and she thinks I’m unfair so I’m recusing myself from this case.” Floyd’s case was rescheduled to March 27 with Judge Mark Agee from Gibson County.
This is a developing story.