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HCS Head Start and NHSA: Lift the order or transfer the child to another center

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For the past two years I have struggled to improve the educational quality of my daughter’s Head Start program. After numerous meetings that ultimately did not result in any tangible changes, I decided to make a petition. I was so frustrated with my daughter continually coming home with drawings on which her teachers had misspelled basic, one or two syllable words. On 10/23/12 while dropping off my daughter I noticed a sign on the classroom door that said "Oct 29 is pajama day. Please have your child wear their pajama on this day". I took a pen out of my pocket and partially corrected the sign. I added an "s" and wrote below it in parenthesis "plural". I should have also changed “their” to “his/her”.

When I returned to pick her up I noticed my correction was gone. The notice had been reprinted and posted but without any correction. Because on the bottom of the notice it read “Slate Room Teachers Carmen, Lisa, Minerva & Hilda” I assumed one of her teachers wrote it. The next morning when I went to drop off my daughter Yvette Collazo-Rodriguez, the “educational mentor” who had written the sign, confronted me about my correction. She was very aggressive. She insisted that her grammar was correct. I tried to explain her error by using the analogy of "pant" versus "pants" and I tried to explain that “pajama” is correctly used as an adjective, as in “pajama top”, “pajama party” and even “pajama day”, but that “pajamas” are the correct form of the noun. She would not listen. She told me it was rude to have written on her notice and rude to have talked to the teachers about it (though their names were written on the notice). I told her I understood how that could offend her, but asked her to consider my perspective. She then replied "Well what I put up is none of your business." I realized she was too angry to listen and the situation was too charged to have a productive conversation. I asked her if she would be willing to discuss the issue with some sort of facilitation by another Head Start employee. She said there was no need to do that and refused to meet with me. I felt very threatened and I am extremely uncomfortable having her around my daughter. When I asked the (current) site director, Leslie Barnish how to file a complaint, she said she did not know how and gave me a number for the main office.

Finally, I decided I had to start writing personal emails and letters to every elected official in the region in Western MA where HCS operates and there was a response. People cared. Elected officials were writing me back, meetings were being planned. I filed a complaint with the agency that accredits HCS Head Start. Things were picking up steam when I heard Yvette Collarzo-Rodriguez call me and my daughter dirty in Spanish. I filed a complaint.

Somehow this complaint resulted in me being “trespassed” from the premises. On 12/10/12 three women who I had never met and who introduced themselves by first name only, ambushed me while I was picking up my daughter. They told me that I was wrong and that I did not see Ivette say that and that one of my daughter’s teachers, Hilda Rivera had been monitoring my facebook and felt threatened by posts I had made about my frustrations with the program, so I would no longer be allowed on the premises and would have to find alternative ways of getting her to and from school. They know I am a single parent and the sole custodial guardian of my daughter. This is obviously retaliation for the “trouble” I have been giving them to improve the quality of their program and also a de facto termination without due process. They also gave me no written documentation of this “trespass” or the reasons for it. I asked what the appeals process is and they said there was none. As I was crying they had another staff member bring my daughter to me and even had the gall to try and make small talk with her. Worst of all when I called the next day to get the names of these women and their titles I was refused.

Their lawyer, as well as the HCS staff have refused to even give me the names of these three women or their job titles or any written statment explaing the legal implications and/or justifications for the "trespass". Furthemore when I went to the police station to check and see if indeed there was any sort of stay away order filed against me, I discovered there was not. The police advised me that I could continue to drop her off and pick her up. However, given the toxic nature of the program I do not feel it is a safe place for my daughter. HCS has refused to let us tranfer to another Head Start program provided by a different agency.


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