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Hernando children's program manager fired

The childhood learning leader was accused of misusing workers and some shoddy accounting.

By LISA BUIE, Times Staff Writer
Published February 1, 2008


SPRING HILL - A supervisor for an agency that oversees early childhood programs in Hernando County has been removed from her job after bosses accused her of misusing employees and failing to properly account for money spent.

Linda Foy, CEO of Childhood Development Services, which has a $25-million contract to manage the programs in Hernando and Pasco counties, would not name the manager, citing the advice of the agency's attorney. She said the manager used employees for personal business, including helping her move. She also could not account for $851 in expenditures.

"The employee said she wasn't good in that particular aspect," said Foy. She said her bosses thought the manager, who had been there more than 10 years, had time to become proficient.

Childhood Development Services' Web site identified the manager as Vicky Gates. A woman who answered the phone at that office said Gates was no longer employed by the agency.

Foy announced the move Thursday at the Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition board meeting. She said there was no evidence the money was stolen, but that it could not be tracked through receipts.

The agency reimbursed the coalition for the money, plus $185.57 for the staff time, in order to "err on the side of integrity." Foy said she became aware of the matter after employees alerted higher-ups.

Gates could not be reached for comment Thursday. A phone number yielded a recording saying it was disconnected or out of service.

James Farrelly, the coalition's new executive director, said in a news release that Childhood Development Services kept the coalition informed since concerns first arose. He stressed that services to families and child care providers were "absolutely seamless" during the review.

Foy replaced Gates with Betsy Kier, Gates' counterpart in Pasco. She will manage both offices.

Farrelly called Kier a "highly successful manager" and said her track record of "success, active leadership, as well as approachable personality and professional integrity will significantly benefit the providers and families of Hernando County."

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or 813 909-4604.