All DSS Board Members Told To Resign In Child's Death Case

11:26 PM, Mar 10, 2011   |    comments
Aubrey Littlejohn Courtesy: Asheville Citizen-Times
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Bryson City, NC-- Swain County commissioners called Wednesday for social services board members to resign after they failed to reach consensus on suspending four workers named in a death investigation.

The Department of Social Services board met for nearly three hours in closed session Tuesday night, the board's attorney said after the meeting. Four of five members were present.
Department director Tammy Cagle was among those under consideration for suspension. Police investigating the death of 15-month-old Aubrey Littlejohn also are looking into whether social workers were ordered to falsify documents so it would appear someone had followed up on an abuse complaint.

Commissioners, in a three-paragraph written statement, said they were disappointed with the DSS board. They said the social workers needed suspension so authorities could conduct an unimpeded investigation. "Therefore, the commissioners urge all the current DSS board members to immediately resign, so that these positions can be filled with people who are not afraid to put the best interests of children and families of Swain County first at all times," commissioners said in the statement.

DSS leaders will make a decision soon about whether to remain, said Justin Greene, attorney for the agency and board. "The board has received the request of the commissioners, and they are taking that under consideration and should have a decision in the near future," he said. Commissioners appointed two of the five DSS board members. Two are appointed by the state Social Services Commission, and the final member is appointed by the DSS board itself.

Aubrey died Jan. 10 after spending the previous day strapped into a car seat for 12 hours and given only bites of a hot dog and sips of a soda, according to a search warrant filed by the State Bureau of Investigation. Her great-aunt, Lady Bird Powell, discovered Aubrey wasn't breathing that night and took her to the Cherokee Indian Hospital. Powell called 911 along the way and tried to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, according to court papers.

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