A community school program funded by the D.C. Department of Human Resources has lost track of several television sets, tape recorders and other pieces of electronic equipment, and has been subjected to many budget and personnel "irregularities," the program's new director has reported to public school officials.
Joseph Webb, director of the Harrison Community School at 13th and V Streets, NW, enumerated the missing equipment, alleged theft of food supplies, idle workers and other problems in a letter April 25 to Assistant School Supt. Mary G. Turner. The Washington Post obtained a copy of Webb's letter.
The school a former model cities project, provides day care, after school care and preschool instruction, for about 200 children under a $374,000 grant from DHR.
Webb noted that he was assigned to head the program last January and discovered among its deficiencies:
Workers who "literally had nothing to do" among the 40-member staff.
Time and attendance abuses, including cases of some workers who "were not even working half the time" for which they were paid.
Part-time teachers who were earning more than they would had they been full-time employees and some temporary workers who had been on staff for seven years.
No accountability for the purchase and use of food supplies. Webb told a reporter yesterday that he had determined that a food budget of $22,000 earmarked to feed 277 youngsters through Sept. 30 had only $700 left to spend by last February., He said that during the pre-February period, only about 150 youngsters had been enrolled.
"Many items (color television sets, radios, tape recorders etc.) listed as 'stolen' on an inventory of school supplies. Webb said he found "little evidence" of reports to the police or to school security officials about tthe alleged thefts. Apparently few of the items were reported missing, he said yesterday.
John R. Rosser, assistant to Turner in the adult and continuing education division, said Webb's findings were being investigated.
"Harrison School has a long existence before it was transferred to our division," Rosser said, "We have had some problems because the grant did not carry with it any cost for administration" and that "probably had allowed for some slippage," he said.
Rosser said the school system would "have a shortage of funds and will have to curtail the projector for seek additional funds." He said his office asked Webb to investigate the problems, and would "monitor his procedures and perceptions. All of these items are unsubstantiated until proven."
Funded by DHR day-care money, the program serves three meals a day to about 32 preschool children and dinner to about 170 children of working parents in the after-school program. Efforts to contact DHR day care officials were unsuccessful.
Children are eligible for the program if their parents receive public assistance and are enrolled in work training, or according to family income. A family of four with a gross income of up to $7,547 a year, for example, is eligible.
Webb told a reporter that his attempts to correct the school's problems had met with resistance and retaliation, including a list of grievances about his conduct sent by staff members to his superiors.
"I don't want to see the program closed. I want to bring things out in the open," Webb said. "We're right here in the heart of drugs and prostitution, and these children have been deprived of so much."