The new head of the troubled Texas Juvenile Justice Department has removed two top officials from their jobs, in what he hinted might be the first of several moves to change the agency’s course, reports the Austin American-Statesman. One of the officials who lost their jobs — James Smith, the deputy director of state youth services — was among 11 top agency officials who received pay raises in March, at a time of budget cuts and layoffs at other agencies. Legislative leaders demanded that the raises be rescinded after the American-Statesman disclosed them.
Mike Griffiths, in his first day as executive director, said he removed Smith and Robin McKeever, deputy executive director. “I have made a decision to lead this agency in a different direction,” Griffiths wrote. “I will be decisive in implementing an organizational structure that supports effective communication, responsiveness and accountability through all levels of our department.” Griffiths, a respected juvenile justice official who retired as head of the Dallas County juvenile justice agency just over two years ago, said in his message that he wants to build his own executive team.