Fuller to stay on job

By Tom Corrigan - tcorrigan@aimmediamidwest.com

After meeting for several hours early Tuesday morning, the Scioto County Children Services Board elected not to suspend Children Services Director Lorra Fuller pending the outcome of an investigation by the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services.

A state investigator was to be in Scioto County Monday to begin a review of the circumstances surrounding the case.

Fuller and Children Services have met with heavy criticism following the death of young Dylan Groves, whose body sheriff’s authorities say they found at the bottom of a well in Otway. Parents Daniel and Jessica Groves both are charged with aggravated murder and murder, along with other criminal counts stemming from the death.

Following their long meeting, board members released the following statement:

“At this time, the executive director, Dr. Lorra Fuller, will remain in place pending the result of the third-party review. We will be requesting a meeting with partnering agencies to better facilitate agency relationships to help promote the better welfare of our county’s children. We as a board care very much about children in our custody and we are deeply saddened by Dylan Groves’ tragic death.”

Board Chairman Al Oliver did not respond to a voicemail request for further comment.

Oliver and the board moved to retain Fuller despite a unanimous request from the Scioto County Board of Commissioners to place her on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into Dylan’s death.

While they appoint the Children Services Board, county commissioners have no direct authority over that board or the Children Services organization.

In previous comments to the Daily Times, Fuller said the state investigator will have 90 days to complete his or her job as well as additional time to write up their ultimate findings.

“Whatever the board decides, I feel like it is a horrible tragedy that happened to this child but at the same time this is what we do every day. We are obligated by law to place children with family. And we follow procedure, we follow the protocols as put in place by the state of Ohio,” Fuller told the Daily Times prior to Tuesday’s board meeting.

Most of that session took place behind closed doors, as is allowed by Ohio’s so-called Sunshine Law. The meeting attracted 15 to 20 people who waited outside Children Services offices for the board’s announcement. One of those was Jared Compton, who said most of those present were friends and family of Fuller, there to show their support. Asked if he believed Fuller should be suspended, Compton admitted he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I do know a lot of people are jumping to conclusions before all the facts are known.”

If the group outside Children Services Gallia Street offices Tuesday morning were there to support Fuller, a slightly different crowd was present Monday morning protesting the organization’s operations.

“We’re here for baby Dylan,” said protest organizer Stephanie Carter, who like others carried a sign reading, “Justice for Dylan.”

In addition to asking for Fuller’s suspension along with the rest of the county commissioners, Commissioner Bryan Davis also requested Children Services immediately review all cases involving any children currently in county custody. Davis stated he fears another case similar to Dylan’s might be waiting in the wings.

Neither Davis nor any of the county commissioners were readily available for comment immediately following the meeting of the Children Services Board.

While he was allegedly born with illicit drugs in his system, Dylan ultimately was returned to his father’s custody, Fuller said in accordance with state law. She added family members, including parents, wanting to take a child previously identified as endangered must meet numerous criteria before they can gain or regain custody of that child.

“Typically, all of our parents, if needed, go through a parenting class,” Fuller continued. “They might have to have an alcohol/drug assessment. They might have to have a mental health assessment… essentially, whatever is identified as necessary by the caseworker.”

By Tom Corrigan


Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.