'Caged kids' horrify nation, yet local official hadn't 'reviewed file'

Date: 2005-09-20

The tip-off came in our news story on Saturday headlined, "We didn't drop the ball on this one." That's a quote from Erich Dumbeck, director of the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services.

Dumbeck wouldn't answer whether his agency was involved in a previous investigation of the home.

Dumbeck wouldn't confirm or deny his agency handled other complaints of alleged mistreatment of the children that a woman says she made in 2001 and 2002.

Why not? Dumbeck said, "One, I haven't reviewed the file myself ..."

Whoa.

Dumbeck hadn't reviewed the file as of last Friday? That was one full week after the children were taken out of the home in Clarksfield Township. And it was four days after Dumbeck's own department was given temporary custody of the children. By that time, the gut-wrenching story of the "kids in cages" had literally gone around the world in news headlines.

We'd almost rather believe that Dumbeck wasn't telling the truth when he said he hadn't even reviewed the file. The kids are in his care; the planet is buzzing with headlines and photos of the "cages" and Dumbeck still hadn't reviewed the file? That should have been done immediately. What was he doing that could be more important?

We're now told that, as of yesterday, Dumbeck has finally reviewed the file.

We have a million other questions aching to be answered, including how this one couple, Michael and Sharen Gravelle, could be permitted to adopt 11 special needs children from a number of counties. What two people could possibly be up to the challenges and responsibilities of adequately caring for their needs?

But right now, we're mostly wondering if this deeply disturbing situation can be properly investigated and addressed. After all, the top local official now responsible for the children needed more than a week after their plight became known to get around to reviewing the file.

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