Board Chair, Acting Director Observed from Back of Chamber
About 60 representatives of families with members being served by the massive Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs Agency filled Council chambers for the April 17 Greenville County Council meeting. Eight of the family members were able to address the Council during the 30 minutes allowed for constituent remarks. They discussed the importance of the agency to their families and the stress on families brought about by recent confusion, turmoil, uncertainty and unexplained personnel changes.
They told heartbreaking stories of their sons and daughters recent experiences under care of the agency. There was hardly a dry eye in the room when Peggy Farmer discussed her worries about what will happen to her elderly son when she and her husband are no longer around to look after his welfare. They and others are no longer certain that they can depend on the agency to properly provide the care necessary.
Adult residents whose only means of communication is sign language became very unsettled when the only employee who could communicate using sign language was suddenly dismissed.
The families who attended the meeting, by their applause, appeared to be in agreement with the speakers. They have lost confidence in the board of directors and, in desperation, urged the Council members to do whatever is necessary to replace the board.
Board members are recommended by Greenville County Council and they are appointed by the Governor. Only the Governor has the authority to remove a board member, and then only for certain causes that include incompetency, conflicts of interest, misconduct, malfeasance, absenteeism, and persistent neglect of duty or being charged with a serious crime.
Two or more board members have recently resigned to protest actions by the board chairman and have written letters of resignation to Governor Haley, but have seen no action.
An audit report in possession of the board reportedly contains allegations of serious financial and management problems. The report reportedly reveals one or more questionable contractual arrangements. One former board member suggests that an investigation by SLED may be the only way to get the agency back on track and functioning effectively.
Council Chairman Butch Kirven hopes to resolve the problems in-house. He has appointed a three member ad hoc committee to meet with families and staff and board members and make a comprehensive report to the full Council by the May 16 meeting. Members of the committee are Dan Rawls, Liz Seman and Lottie Gibson.
Chairman Kirven has promised to have an open meeting to discuss the Greenville County Disabilities and Special Needs board and agency during the month of May.