Perjury claims newest source of trouble for department
Margaret Kern also accused Job and Family Services officials who testified at Michael and Sharen Gravelles' criminal trial for child abuse and child endangering last month of "perjury." She took issue with the commissioners after commission President Gary Bauer told her the commissioners were "relatively pleased" with the job performance of Job and Family Services Director Erich Dumbeck.
Five Job and Family Services officials testified about their involvement with the case and "some who perjured themselves in this case and you don't want to look any further into that to find out what's really going on there," charged Kern.
Kern sat in the trial last month as a representative for the children. She has been their advocate since the 11 children were removed from the Clarksfield Township home in September 2005, she said.
Kern's complaint follows up a letter sent to the commissioners by a juror who said she is upset with the lack of accountability at Job and Family Services.
"How do I justify to them why they had to wait two years to be taken out of cages when at least six officials in the department knew they were in cages? What's my answer to those children?" Kern asked the commissioners.
"I don't know that answer," Commissioner Gary Bauer responded.
"Have you asked those specific people why it took so long and why the children continued to have to be in a box for two more years?" she asked.
"I have not asked those questions," Bauer stated.
"Don't you think it's necessary?" she asked. "Don't you think it's just common human decency owed to the children of this county? You know, that's what Children Services is for. It's a protective agency. It's there to protect."
"I think these are all questions that need to be answered by the commissioners, yes," Bauer said, adding that he refuses to get involved until the legal process has been completed through the appeal court.
"Every year for the last five years, I have brought you problems from Children Services. Here I am five years later and I haven't seen any changes. Would you understand my frustration?" Kern demanded.
"Sure would," commission Vice President Ralph Fegley replied.
"Yes, I'm sure I would be, too," Bauer said.
"The taxpayers are spending millions of dollars out there, and are they really getting their money's worth?" Kern asked.
She told the commissioners it was "their job" to make sure the tax dollars are being spent wisely.
"Specifically, it's our job to hire the director to make sure the system works," Bauer said in response.
"Are you happy with the director?" Kern asked.
"I would go to our last evaluation. ... We were relatively pleased with our director," Bauer said.
"Then we have another problem if there's that many problems at the department and you hire the director and you think he should still be getting a good report card, but none of these problems have been corrected. That doesn't make any sense to me," Kern said.
"We've already said we're having ongoing conversations about this, but not in the public," Bauer shot back.