The Scioto County Commissioners once again addressed their issues with Children Services and the agency’s continued operations during their Tuesday meeting after receiving a letter from the agency’s Director, Lora Fuller.
“I feel compelled that this statement needs to be made, and we’ll be responding to this letter,” said Commissioner Bryan Davis. “We received a letter that was dated for July 1, from Lora Fuller at Children Services, and I’m very concerned about some of the things in this letter. It’s the response to the at risk cases and the request that we made that the current cases that are under CPS authority be reviewed to make sure we don’t have a potential Dylan Groves case in the making. We did get a response in regards to that and the comment that was made is “in response to your request as well as internal quality assurance, the ongoing supervisor Lisa Thomas will be reviewing all cases of children in the custody of our children’,” read Davis.
Davis said the letter went on to state the case review would be completed by the 8th of July. “My concern is simply this, we got a rebuttal from our sheriff the other day in regards to a statement that was made in investigatory notes that were filed with Portsmouth Municipal Court. In those investigatory notes originally, it stated that Dr. Fuller had said an Amber Alert wasn’t necessary and that it would look bad on the agency,” Daivis said. “In the retraction of that the sheriff stated that it wasn’t Dr. Fuller that made that comment, but the supervisor. So my question is simply this, are we letting the person that said an Amber Alert would look bad on the agency do the review of all these cases? That’s concerning to me. It’s also concerning to me that an Amber Alert was never issued.”
Davis said the letter references Ohio Administrative Code 5101:2-42-65, which pertains to caseworker visits and contacts with children in substitute care. “I’m really glad she quoted this code because this is something that has been quoted to me by other CPS agencies as well as employees. How often a caseworker visits and contacts with children in substitute care. It dictates that children must been seen monthly, every 30 days,” Davis said. “That did not happen in this situation. The law was broken in this case, and it astounds me when I talk to other CPS agencies, and maybe this is a policy CPS needs to review, that when contact with a child cannot be made after 30 days that’s when you have an amber alert, that’s when you contact law enforcement, that’s when you call the radio, and put it on tv and you blast it out there and you find that child. You don’t wait over a month, two months, to really press the issue.”
Davis stated while the letter was intended to bring the commissioners some peace of mind, it only raises more red flags. “Am I upset? Yes I am. Because when I read this it raises even more questions. This child was severely, I hate to use the word ignored, but apathy came into play here folks. And I’m sorry, if someone is offended by this then so be it. We have a child that is deceased, and I’m sure a lot of people feel bad about that, but if the supervisor here is the same one from the investigative notes, I don’t understand why she would implicate herself in being against an amber alert,” said Davis. “I’m not a detective, I’m not the prosecutor, but please someone tell me what supervisor we’re talking about here. If it’s someone other than Lisa Thomas, and she’s the one reviewing the cases here, I don’t understand that. As a matter of fact, I don’t understand if she’s the one doing it why she’s not already on leave. I just can’t believe this, and there’s a lot of people talking.”
Davis went on to state he feels anyone who has worked for CPS in the last six months and anyone who had contact with baby Groves be questioned by the third party investigators.
Commissioner Mike Crabtree agreed with Davis and stated he did not believe CPS should be investigating themselves, and felt those actions should be taken by a third party. “It not only looks bad on us, it looks bad on them,” Crabtree said. “If they are innocent, why wouldn’t they want a third party? If you’ve got something to hide that’s when you investigate yourself.”
Davis stated that while CPS is not directly responsible for the infant’s death, the procedures in place which did not prevent the death from occurring need to be thoroughly investigated. “I think everybody should understand there are one or two individuals who are directly responsible for the death of that child, the parents, who are innocent until proven guilty. I understand that. The bottom line is somebody caused the death of that child, and we have not said CPS was the direct cause of that,” Davis said. “We need to make sure the blame lies where it should, and we will wait until the criminal trial for the results of that. But what our concern is, this is not a witch hunt. This is a hunt for the truth, bottom line. And to find out if there were issues, procedures, causes that led to the potential for this to happen, what are they and what needs to be fixed. And they may not be local, but state. But until this is researched and discovered we will not know.”
Davis did suggest that he feels at least some of the answers lie locally.
Commissioner Cathy Coleman called on the chair of CPS board to perform his duties. “I urge Mr. Oliver to take responsibility of this, and fulfill the board’s obligations to the children.” Coleman called on the board to step up and take lead.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740) 353-3101 Extension 1932