Parents upset after summer job program for teens turns into long lines, false information

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- What was supposed to be job training for Memphis teens on Tuesday turned into chaos and a disappointment for many parents.

A group called “Inner Circle Works” said it would pay teenagers $8 an hour this summer to work, but when over 600 teens showed up, the organizer said there are only 50 jobs available.

It came as a huge disappointment to parents who want their kids to stay on the right track and not get into trouble this summer.

There was an orientation on Monday for the program where the line wrapped around the building.

“People were skipping and shoving and stuff and I told my mom, 'I do not feel comfortable right now,'" said 11th-grader Fakeria Carter.

The organizer said the rain made them end early, and on Tuesday, those teens were told to come to the Great Hall in Germantown, which also got off to a rocky start.

Some parents told WREG's Bridget Chapman they got there at 6 a.m. and were lined up, but the actual doors to the building didn’t open until 10 a.m.

“I came from Frayser way out here," said grandparent Nancy Richardson.

A Germantown spokesperson said the organizer reserved the building from 9-11 a.m., but his credit card got declined and they were waiting for payment. Police came as the crowds grew.

“He made this mess, now he got to straighten it up," said parent Willie Cage.

Parents like Cage told us what made it worse was the organizer came late and said he only has jobs for 50 teens.

“Is it safe to say you didn’t expect this many people to show up and you weren’t prepared for this many to show up?" WREG's Bridget Chapman asked the organizer, Tavares Smith.

"Right," he answered.

Smith admitted he didn’t plan this all the way through. It’s the program’s second year, and he didn’t think so many teens would show up for 50 jobs.

He also said the businesses he partnered with pulled out, only leaving job openings at his car company.

“This was a bad situation, so maybe we can sit down and talk and come up with a better solution," said Smith.

He's asking for the community’s help since there are Memphis teens who clearly want to work.

Smith said he’s going to host a town hall for the parents to see what to do going forward, but many parents told us on Tuesday they no longer have trust in the program and are going to be looking elsewhere.

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