- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 31, 2005

News of federal Head Start leader Windy Hill’s resignation Friday was welcomed yesterday by a Democratic lawmaker.

“Windy Hill had a rocky tenure as Head Start director,” said Rep. George Miller, California Democrat and ranking member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “The president should appoint a replacement who understands the important contribution that Head Start makes to the lives of poor children and families and who will work to safeguard and strengthen the program.”

Last year, Mr. Miller and other Democratic colleagues asked the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) to investigate accusations of financial mismanagement by Miss Hill when she directed a Head Start program in Bastrop, Texas.

The accusations were leveled by the National Head Start Association (NHSA), based on internal audits and documents that it acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the NHSA said the group was still preparing its response to the resignation of Miss Hill, which was announced late Friday in an HHS statement and was effective immediately.

According to the HHS statement, Joan Ohl, commissioner of the administration on children, youth and families, will serve as interim head of the Head Start Bureau.

“Windy is a caring and devoted person who has always been interested in the well-being of children. We appreciate her service and wish her well in future endeavors,” said Wade F. Horn, HHS assistant secretary for children and families.

Miss Hill could not be reached yesterday, but in an internal memo sent to Head Start colleagues, she said she had been thinking for several months about her “inevitable departure from HHS and what direction to go next.”

Now that new, bipartisan Head Start reforms are under way in Congress, she said, it’s clear “my work here is complete,” adding that she would be returning to Texas, her family and new career opportunities.

In the April 2004 accusations, the NHSA said Miss Hill was involved in the misuse of about $150,000 while she was leader of the Cen-Tex Family Services. They also said she personally benefited from questionable bonuses and a “cash out” of vacation time.

After the NHSA called for her resignation, Miss Hill called for an federal investigation into the matter.

“These untrue allegations need to be confronted and answered quickly and with certainty,” she said at the time.

Phone calls yesterday seeking information on status of the HHS investigative report were not returned. An HHS spokesman said a preliminary report on the matter had been seen a few months ago.

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