Arizona state officials laid the blame for a mountain of neglected child-welfare cases on six state staffers Wednesday, firing all of them, including a high-ranking deputy at the state Department of Economic Security, reports the Arizona Republic. The terminations came as the state Department of Public Safety released a lengthy report on the origins of the fiasco that culminated in November with the discovery of nearly 6,600 child-abuse and neglect reports that had been deliberately set aside and marked “NI” for “not investigated.”
State law requires all neglect and abuse reports to be investigated. The report reached no conclusions, but it prompted Charles Flanagan, the director of the state’s new child welfare agency, to terminate five members of an elite unit at the former Child Protective Services office. In addition, DES Director Clarence Carter fired Sharon Sergent, the agency’s deputy director for programs. The fired employees had been on paid administrative leave since early December.