Social Worker Fired in Slaying
2 Others Suspended Over the Pr. William Child Abuse Case
Thursday, June 18, 2009
A Prince William County social services employee has been fired and two others disciplined for mishandling the case of a 13-year-old girl whose adoptive mother is accused of abusing and killing her, county officials said yesterday.
After Alexis "Lexie" Agyepong-Glover was found slain in a frigid creek Jan. 9, many people, including school bus drivers, said they had reported seeing signs that she was being abused by her mother, Alfreedia Gregg-Glover, but she was not removed from the home.
Several investigations were launched at the local and state levels, and an internal review by the county's Department of Social Services found that several employees did not follow proper procedures in response to the abuse and neglect reports, officials said.
"I would say that we made some errors, no doubt about it," said John P. Ledden Jr., director of social services, adding that the investigation's findings have led to procedural changes. "I want to ensure we learn something from this case."
Ledden declined to discuss the specific procedures his employees failed to follow. He said that in some cases the required actions were taken, but not within the proper time frames.
One change in place involves how multiple complaints about the same child are handled, even when they are determined to be invalid, Ledden said. Now, three abuse reports about the same child that are deemed invalid will prompt a further inquiry into the child's case, he said.
In addition, Ledden said the Board of County Supervisors gave his agency funding in the most recent budget to hire two more social workers after July 1, and he is considering increasing the training and number of responders on call after hours.
Ledden has also been meeting with county Police Chief Charlie T. Deane to discuss how their departments can better coordinate and share information, and he might ask the county to petition the General Assembly for less-restrictive laws governing what information can be shared across agencies in child abuse cases.
One senior social worker was fired Tuesday, and two social work managers were suspended for five days without pay, officials said. A probationary employee involved in Lexie's case has also been fired, although there were other problems with that social worker beyond the Glover case, officials said.
Officials did not release the names of the employees, citing confidentiality rules about personnel matters.
Several officials, including Ledden, said they hope improved procedures at the agency will be a silver lining to the tragedy.
"If something good is going to come out of this, it's that the county has been able to learn from this," said Supervisor Martin E. Nohe (R-Coles), an adoptive parent. "The DSS staff and the board of supervisors have really been focused on not trying to sweep this under the rug but, rather, finding out what happened."