Sen. John Whitmire had earlier said he favored a case by case review before terminating employees with criminal records, but judging by this correspondence they've defenestrated that plan. The reader in question had been notified last month that they would be terminated because DPS records showed a felony conviction.
It turned out the DPS database was wrong - the employee had only been convicted of a Class A misdemeanor. After spending three weeks getting the Human Resources department to admit the DPS database was mistaken and change the record, this person received another notice recommending dismissal because of a criminal record. Protesting that the matter supposedly had been resolved, the employee received the following reply from Eric Young at central administration:
The first notification reflected what was actually on your Texas Department of Public Safety criminal record (felony conviction deferred adjudication -possession of control substance). The second notification reflects the change based upon your inquiry and their adjustment (Class A Misdemeanor - possession of control substance). In either case the criminal record reflects a status which violates the agency's new conditions of employment policy, therefore we are moving forward with the recommendation for termination process as indicated in the 4/23/2007 letter.So there it is - demonstrable proof that the agency is proceeding with terminations not just of those with felony convictions but at least some of the 400+ others convicted of misdemeanors, too. It's worth mentioning that a Class A misdemeanor drug possession case is a marijuana charge - all other controlled substance offenses in Texas carry felony sentences. So this person is being recommended for termination based on an old, resolved pot charge, voluntarily disclosed.
Poor morale in the scandal aftermath has been exacerbated by conservator Jay Kimbrough's Paul Bremer impersonation and new Executive Director Ed Owens' mismanagement of employee reviews. Firing hundreds of workers who had nothing to do with the scandals that put the agency in conservatorship will only further demoralize workers, worsen staffing shortages and put both students and employees at risk. Experienced TYC employees are leaving in droves.
And since inexperience and low staffing levels are the main source, say those who've investigated, of increased abuse of TYC youth, it's the kids incarcerated at TYC who pay the biggest price.
These are Governor Rick Perry's appointments, and if the agency fails under their watch, at this point, their overreaching will be to blame as much as the scandals that brought them there, arguably more. The Governor needs to rein in his dogs and redirect them away from rank and file employees and back toward the real wrongdoers.
In other TYC business, the Dallas News today published another article in the saga of who knew what when in the West Texas sex scandal that launched this whole mess, revealing affidavits from two employees (one a regular Grits commenter) who say TYC supervisors were notified of similar allegations in 2003, and that they forwarded the same information to the central office in November 2004 when their superiors failed to act ("2 say TYC was warned," May 1). Reported the News:
Bill Parker, a former TYC case manager at the Marlin Orientation and Assessment Unit, said he alerted his supervisors about alleged sexual abuse at West Texas and other facilities in 2003. When his supervisor and an assistant superintendent at Marlin failed to act, Mr. Parker said he mailed copies of the inmate sexual-abuse claims to TYC headquarters in November 2004.Past TYC chief Dwight Harris had previously said he didn't know about the West Texas allegations until the Texas Rangers released their report the following year, so revelations of earlier knowledge might shed further light on why he resigned so abruptly. See the rest of the News' report. Another instance where the folks who actually could have done something to stop or prevent abuse - Mr. Harris are your ears burning? - get off scot-free while innocent employees lower on the totem pole pay the price for their failures. What a disgrace.
"I was treated as if I was a troublemaker," the former TYC staffer said Monday.
A case manager who still works at TYC's Marlin unit, Anthony Mikulastik, confirmed Mr. Parker's account. Both men gave sworn statements to the Rangers in April and provided copies to The Dallas Morning News .
TYC officials "could have stopped this [abuse] at West Texas," Mr. Mikulastik said. "They didn't want to do anything about it but cover it up."