In the midst of controversy and criticism surrounding the death of Scioto County infant Dylan Groves, Scioto County Children Services Board Chairman Al Oliver last week announced the board planned an open meeting to include board members as well as representatives from various entities involved with children services.
Plans for that meeting fell through and Children Services never released any specific agenda. However, the meeting presumably was to revolve around Dylan’s death and/or children services practices and policies.
In place of the announced public meeting, a limited number of Children Services Board members met behind closed doors Wednesday evening with representatives of some of the entities involved with Children Services organization. One of those was Scioto County Court of Common Pleas Judge Alan Lemons, who presides over the court’s probate/juvenile division.
On Thursday, Lemons’ office promised to supply a joint statement from the various persons involved with the meeting. That statement arrived early Friday morning and reads exactly as follows:
“On July 17, 2019, various agencies of Scioto County Government, which included representatives from Scioto County Juvenile Court, Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office, Scioto County Commissioner’s Office, and Members of the Scioto County Children’s Services Board, met in a work session to discuss the current state of child protective services in the county and ways to improve services.
“Although no specific cases were discussed, input was received on how initial calls are addressed, proper response, and other suggested changes to improve the current process. There was also an open and frank discussion of impediments regarding communication between agencies and methods that could be used to open those lines of communication. Further discussions were regarding what laws could be changed through the state legislature to tear down any barriers to provide effective services.
“The overall goal of meeting was how to better protect our children. All parties came to the meeting with the same mindset. The plan is to continue meeting every six (6) weeks, extend an invitation to local school and medical personnel, to further discuss these issues. It is our intention to share the results of these meetings with the public.”
On Friday, Oliver responded to a voicemail message requesting further comment with a text stating “nothing to add.” Because Wednesday’s session was closed to the public, by law, only one county commissioner could attend. As vice chair of the county board, Commissioner Bryan Davis sat in on the session solo, despite the interest of all three members of the county board. Davis did not return a request for further comment Friday.
“It would have been nice if we were contacted and asked if we were available, with Mike (Crabtree) on county business all three commissioners wanting to attend, it would’ve been nice if we were asked before we were told to be there,” Davis said during a commission meeting Tuesday.
Prior to Wednesday’s Children Services Board session, Davis told the Times he hoped the session did not “devolve” into a question-and-answer period on what occurred in the Dylan Groves’ case.
As the statement released by Lemons’ office claims no specific case came under discussion, Davis ‘ concern seemingly did not come to fruition.
Again speaking prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Children Services Director Lorra Fuller said the idea of holding a closed meeting was to allow a more open, unfettered discussion among the various officials. She specifically noted the children services board holds monthly meetings routinely open to the public and including a public comment session.
According to whoever answered phones Friday at the Children Services offices, the next regular board meeting is 9:30 a.m., Aug. 8 at the Children Services building, 3940 Gallia St., New Boston.
“The bottom line is we had the death of the baby,” Oliver said previously. “Nobody likes that… But they’re pointing fingers at children services and that’s unfair.”
Oliver added the public does not seem to have a good grasp of what children services is capable of doing, adding he has served on the board for many years.
“We’ve never had any issues,” he added.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.Reach