Richmond Deputy CAO off job following DSS scandal

Published: Dec. 10, 2012 at 4:58 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 20, 2012 at 4:58 PM EST
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Dr. Carolyn Graham
Dr. Carolyn Graham

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A top city official is stepping down and another is on leave, amid allegations some of the most vulnerable at risk.

Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Dr. Carolyn Graham is off the job. She is facing accusations dealing with the Department of Social Services Child Welfare Division.

The mayor's office sent out a release Monday saying it came to a "mutual agreement" with Dr. Graham "regarding her departure from city service." Many have been calling for her head since these allegations came to light. Now city, state and outside agencies will determine if Richmond's children are at risk.

The Department of Social Services' lofty mission is protecting those who cannot protect themselves, but according to accusations heard by Councilman Charles Samuels, in Richmond, that isn't always happening.

"The goal here isn't just a situation where maybe social services could have been better managed or maybe it should have been organized in a different fashion," he said. "This is a situation where children's lives are in danger."

One of those children's stories was told to Councilman Chris Hilbert, and became the straw that broke the camel's back. A local ER doctor, concerned about a child who had been to the emergency room more than twenty times, said he could no longer support the decision to keep the child in the home. Hilbert says a plea to social services went without action, reportedly to keep down the numbers of kids in foster care in the city.

The mayor's office requested state DSS and an outside advocacy agency investigate. Monday, the consequences came out. Dr. Graham's last day of work was Friday.

The City also placed the Deputy Director for Child Welfare, Gayle Turner, on administrative leave due to the a number of allegations it has received.

"I think the sign on Harry Truman's desk said it best: 'the buck stops here' and at some point the folks who are in charge of this organization have to be held accountable for what happened on their watch," Samuels explained.

In a statement, Mayor Dwight Jones added, "We must be certain that the department's policies and practices are working effectively and that the agency is operating above reproach as child safety is not an issue where there will be any equivocation."

Right now, the city's Chief Administrative Officer, Byron Marshall, will serve as acting head of human services until an interim deputy is named. It is unclear if he or DSS head Doris Mosely will also face consequences. Many of these people have been longtime allies in government.

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