Pay up or else.
That was the tone of a recent letter the Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center received demanding that it return more than $34,000 in grant money to the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority.
The Bert Nash Governing Board of Directors refuses to authorize the payment.
The dispute centers on a grant Bert Nash received in 1998 to expand its juvenile delinquency prevention program from high schools to the junior high schools.
The program, Working to Recognize Alternative Possibilities, or WRAP, is managed jointly by Nash with the Lawrence public schools and Lawrence Partnership for Youth and Children.
It wasn't until the end of December 1998, however, that Bert Nash received a $130,000 grant for the program. That was not enough time to hire four people and get the program started in the junior highs in January, said Tom Petrizzo, chief operating officer for Bert Nash.
"We had to work with the schools," Petrizzo said. "We couldn't just arbitrarily go in and do something on our own."
The expanded program began in March, Petrizzo said. Because two months were missed, $34,000 was left over.
Bert Nash had asked that it be allowed to carry the funds into this year, but the request was denied. The state requires that the unused funds be returned to the Kansas Juvenile Justice Authority.
Several letters have been exchanged between Bert Nash and juvenile justice.
"We've explained our situation to them," Petrizzo said.
Earlier this month Bert Nash received another letter from the Kansas Advisory Group on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It was signed by Rochelle Chronister, the group's chairwoman. It noted that Bert Nash could face debarment if it doesn't pay back the money.
Debarment is similar to probation and could affect Bert Nash's eligibility to receive future grants from other sources.
During its meeting Tuesday, the Bert Nash board directed Chief Executive Sandra Shaw not to return the money and to continue to pursue another solution with the state.
Chronister couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday.