Bertie DSS Board appoints interim director

Published 5:13 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

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WINDSOR – Bertie County’s Department of Social Services will have a new leader on an interim basis.

The county’s DSS Board has appointed Jack Jones as interim director. That appointment was made here Thursday during a special called meeting of the board.

Jones retired as the DSS Director in Lenoir County. Since that retirement he has worked on occasion as an interim DSS director in other eastern North Carolina counties, according to Bertie County Manager Juan Vaughan II.

Jones’s appointment in Bertie County comes on the heels of the retirement of its former DSS director, Cindy Perry. Vaughan said the Bertie County DSS Board, at a public meeting held June 22, approved measures that would begin the process of dismissing Perry from her job. That process includes the issuance of a letter that details the issues which led the DSS Board to consider dismissing the director.

“It was noted at that meeting that Cindy Perry is subject to the State Personnel Act, meaning the county’s DSS Board is required to give her notice of a pre-dismissal conference,” Vaughan stated.

Vaughan added that the conference was scheduled for Thursday (June 30). However, he said that Perry submitted a letter on Friday of last week (June 24), informing the Bertie DSS Board of her retirement, which was effective that day.

With that, the Bertie DSS Board canceled the pre-dismissal conference slated for June 30. They then scheduled a special called meeting for that same day where the board voted to hire Jones as the interim director.

This all comes at a time where the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has temporarily assumed leadership of child welfare services at Bertie DSS, as authorized under state law. That takeover was effective on May 16.

In a press release sent prior to the takeover, NCDHHS officials said they initiated a review of child welfare services in Bertie County after learning of “serious concerns around its practice, delivery and administration of child welfare services. Subsequent information gathered during NCDHHS’ communication with Bertie County DSS leadership and staff, case and record reviews and on-site visits revealed a systemic lack of adequate training, supervision, and capacity to deliver appropriate child welfare services in accordance with law, rule and policy.”

As of Thursday of this week, Vaughan said NCDHHS staff remains on site at the Bertie DSS office where they continue to work closely with staff to manage and stabilize child welfare services as well as develop a plan to bring it into compliance with all applicable laws and appropriate practices. It is not known when their work will be completed.

Vaughan added that there are some concerns as well with the Adult Services offered by Bertie DSS. He said NCDHHS staff is providing “technical assistance” to that department as well.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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