Shake-up at Richland County Children Services
Randy Parker put on paid leave; board president resigns
MANSFIELD — Few details have been released about Wednesday night’s shake-up of the Richland County Children Services leadership, but board member Robert Konstam said a plan of succession has been in place for “some time.”
With a 6-4 vote, Richland County Children Services board members placed Executive Director Randy Parker on paid administrative leave.
The action took place at a board meeting that included the resignation of Board President Nancy Joyce. She did not cite a reason for resigning.
“The Richland County Children Services board of directors has placed Randy Parker, the executive director, on paid administrative leave, and we have no further comment at this time,” board attorney Scott Harvey said Thursday.
Ten of 13 board members attended the meeting, said agency spokesman Carl Hunnell. Robert Konstam, Pam Siegenthaler, Beth Price, Carol Payton, Dave Leitenberger and Michelle Kowalski voted to put Parker on leave. Opposing the motion were Joyce, Dean Wells, David Metzger and Jon Bell.
James Kulig, Ivy Amos and Dr. Colleen J. McKinney were absent from the meeting.
“I enjoyed my tenure on the board and I feel very good about the direction of the agency during that time, and I have great respect for the staff for the work they do in protecting children and strengthening families,” Joyce said Thursday.
“Children Services will continue to operate in the same professional manner,” Wells said. “We have good people on board that handle the safety of the children in Richland County.
Wells, acting chairman of the board, has served for six years.
“We have a lot of young people in this town who need a lot of help,” he said. “Children Services does a good job at helping them.”
Parker will be on leave until the board takes further action, Konstam said.
“We have a plan of succession in place, and there has been for some time a plan that provided (that) in Randy’s absence, Nikki Harless will step into that slot and provide those duties,” Konstam said.
Harless is director of operations at the agency, which has more than 1,300 children in its care and completed three adoptions last month, Wells said.
Harless is a lifelong area resident, graduating from Clear Fork High School in 1987. She received a bachelor’s degree in social work from The Ohio State University in 1992 and obtained a master’s degree in social work there in 2007.
She has worked with Richland County Children Services since 1992 and is a licensed independent social worker. She lives in Ontario with her husband, Tim, who is director of external affairs at Richland County Children Services.
Wells said he was shocked when he went to the board meeting.
“I’ve been very close with Mr. Parker and the administrative staff on working with foster kids, foster parents. So I didn’t see this coming,” Wells said. “Everybody gets their day. Mr. Parker is a good man, and he’ll land on his feet.”
Wells said he delivered the board’s decision to Parker last night.
“He was on medical leave. He was not at the meeting,” Wells said. “That was the first sick day he ever took.”
Parker was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Wells said he addressed some of the staff, but the rest will be notified through email.
“The ones I was dealing with were visibly upset,” he said. “It’s tough.”
A regular board meeting had been scheduled for Monday. About 2 p.m. that day, board members were made aware of a problem with the fire suppression system and were told it was potentially unsafe. Joyce was asked to reschedule the meeting as soon as possible, so Wednesday’s meeting was set.
The executive session at Wednesday’s meeting was called to “consider the appointment, employee dismissal, discipline, promotion or demotion or compensation of an employee or official, or the investigation of charges or complaints against an employee, official license or student.”
Parker’s gross pay in 2010 was $136,019, making him among the top-paid employees in the county.
Twitter: @lwhitmir – Orig Link to MNJ – http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20120518/NEWS01/205180303/Shake-up-Richland-County-Children-Services
Here you will see comments are at a minimum, because folks are not allowed to share their issues with these people, and hopefully they’ll find their way here to speak out?.