JCPS early childhood director James Francis resigns effective im - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS early childhood director James Francis resigns effective immediately

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After only a year on the job, the director of early childhood education for Jefferson County Public Schools has resigned effective immediately.

James Francis, who started the position on June 29, 2015, previously worked as a compliance officer in early childhood education and in the district's human resources department from 2006-2010.

According to a message sent to employees Monday morning from Karen Branham, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for JCPS, Francis' resignation is effective today.

"I will work with the Head Start Policy Council, JCPS human resources and early childhood leadership team to post the position and seek an immediate replacement," Branham said.

In his resignation letter, obtained by WDRB News through an open records request, Francis says he is resigning due to a "personal family health issue."

"I am proud of the accomplishments that have been made in early childhood," he said. "In particular, the new redesign as well as JCPS receiving the new $75 million grant."

Francis has been the subject of a few district investigations and served a 10-day suspension without pay for allegedly intimidating an employee in December 2015.

Most recently, JCPS investigated his behavior following a Head Start policy council meeting in March and determined he was condescending and disrespectful to members of the committee. A district spokeswoman confirmed officials had talked to Francis about the March meeting, but no formal disciplinary action was taken against him.

The December 2015 investigation mentioned at least one other prior incident of unacceptable behavior in Francis' file and said he was suspended in 2010 for five days and ordered to take anger and conflict management classes.

Just last month, JCPS won an annual $14.9 million grant for the next five years -- a total of nearly $75 million -- to continue operating the federal Head Start early childhood program. The new grant allows JCPS to hire back hundreds of employees and provide services to about 1,500 students a year.

The district had been deemed ineligible for automatic renewal of its Head Start funding after the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, conducted a review of JCPS Head Start programs in Dec. 2013 and found three areas of non-compliance and one deficiency.

The deficiency pertained to JCPS not properly documenting it had obtained or arranged further examination by a certified professional for 15 children who were in need of treatment ranging from further dental care to hearing, developmental and social-emotional screenings that indicated a need for diagnostic testing.

Neither Francis nor Branham could not be reached immediately on Monday.  

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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