Tucker implores state to run Union County DSS until it is ‘on solid footing’
By David Perlmutt
Posted: Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014
A visibly angry N.C. Sen. Tommy Tucker implored state health officials Tuesday to temporarily intervene in the “day-to-day operations” of Union County’s social services department after a shocking child abuse case that involved one of the agency’s own.
Tucker told state DSS Director Wayne Black at a legislative hearing that his office needs “to dive in” to the county agency while authorities investigate the handcuffing of an 11-year-old boy to the porch of his guardian’s Monroe-area home – with a dead chicken around his neck. Wanda Larson, a county child protective services supervisor who apparently is the boy’s legal guardian, and her longtime boyfriend were arrested in November and indicted a month later on child abuse charges.
Authorities removed the boy and four other adopted children, ages 7 to 14, from the home and placed them in the charge of Davidson County DSS. Larson also was fired by the county.
Tucker, a Waxhaw Republican who represents Union County, was incredulous after Black told a joint committee of lawmakers that his office doesn’t have the authority to intervene in Union County. Black said the county Human Services Department director requested the state investigate its operations, identify any deficiencies and make recommendations. DSS is part of the Human Services Department.
By law, Black said the state could only take over if Union’s human services and DSS directors weren’t cooperative, and they found children in danger.
But Tucker argued that DSS has had considerable changeover in leadership in the past three years and that Union County commissioners dissolved an advisory board to the Human Services Department.
“I don’t know what urgency it takes that the state doesn’t need to dive in and run that agency day to day,” he told Black during the Raleigh hearing. “The board’s been dissolved and you’ve got county commissioners that do not know the system … now taking charge. You’re leaving the county … to police itself and you’re going to take a hands-off approach because there is no state statute?
“Forgive me, sir, this is unbelievable; it’s unconscionable that this could happen.”
Commissioners chairman Frank Aikmus declined to comment.