Fayette DFCS director reassigned

Thu, 06/19/2008 - 9:44pm
By: Ben Nelms

Fayette County Dept. of Family & Children’s Services (DFCS) Director Mary Davis ended her seven-year tenure with the local agency Wednesday when she was reassigned to another job function within the state agency. Coincidental or not, her reassignment came within a day of a high profile court case involving a former high-ranking Fulton County DFCS administrator and Fayette County resident on cruelty to children charges in which Fayette DFCS, under Davis' direction, had investigated.

Davis was reassigned to the DFCS Statewide Customer Service Team, according to DFCS Communications Director Dena Smith. She will assume her new responsibility once she returns from leave.

As to why Davis was reassigned, Smith said that DFCS supervisors look at reassignment needs based on where DFCS staff would be best utilized.

Smith said a DFCS Region 16 staff will serve as interim director for Fayette County until a permanent director can be hired. DFCS Region 16 includes Fayette, Clayton and Henry counties. Region 16 is supervised by Clayton County Director Cathy Ratti.

Smith's statement on Davis' reassignment does not account for issues that have arisen subsequent to the Fayette DFCS investigation of former Fulton County DFCS Assistant Director Cylenthia Clark in February 2007 and cruelty to children charges filed one month later by Fayetteville Police relating to a spanking her then-eight year-old daughter received. Clark earlier this week pleaded guilty to the charges and received 10 years probation. Davis was reassigned the following day.

Subsequent to Fayette DFCS involvement with the Clark case, Clayton County DFCS staff were assigned to Fayette County with supervisory authority to determine if cases of suspected abuse or neglect should be investigated, a move not supported by the local community board.

The Fayette DFCS Community Board of Directors have long supported Davis and her proficiency in handing matters relating to the needs of Fayette residents.

In another case of questionable timing, Davis’ reassignment comes in close proximity to a May 22 letter from the local Fayette DFCS Board of Directors, appointed by the county commission, in which they reiterated earlier concerns relating to Clayton County DFCS staff being given a prominent role in Fayette cases.

The May 22 letter also noted recent changes in the way reports of suspected child abuse and neglect were being handled by non-Fayette DFCS staff in relation to the recently-implemented Desired Response Pattern, also known as the Performance Pyramid, that carries a methodology for determining if services are needed and what those services might include.

“Simply stated, the board, as the link between the agency and the Fayette community, is deeply disturbed by the intake procedures implemented in Fayette County DFCS,” the May 22 letter said. “They put children in our community at risk of harm or death, and they do not meet the long-established, high standards for child welfare which Fayette County residents expect.”

“Moreover, inasmuch as Clayton County DFCS staff is exercising supervisory authority over Fayette County DFCS staff in intake as well as other areas, and inasmuch as Clayton County DFCS staff is imposing Clayton County standards and expectations for the care and protection of children upon Fayette County citizens, the Board expects that Clayton County DFCS staff will be liable for any injuries or deaths to Fayette County children, which may result from decisions and directives issued by Clayton County DFCS staff or from the imposition of the Desired Response Pattern as a policy or as an employee performance measurement.”

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Submitted by sshalegg on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 6:43pm.

It is about time that Mary Davis has departed Fayette DFCS. She along with Donna Underwood single-handed destroyed numerous of families that could have and should have been treated with respect and with kit and glove all efforts should be made to keep the family intact along with protecting the children. Ms.Clarks case was no different than any other case where a parent disciplines his/her child. There are policies and procedures that are in place set forth by the state of Georgia. We all have a right to discipline our children set forth by the very state that we live in. When we give the state the right to tell us that we can or cannot discipline our children then and only then will our children develop the attitude that says to his/her parent "you can't tell me what to do and if you hit me I will have you put in jail!". I to have children and refuse to allow any agency to tell me that I cannot raise my babies. Mary Davis was a horrible director who did not know policy (these words came from her mouth). If you are going to lead please learn the rules first. I am glad that Ms.Clark stood up to the Fayette County DFCS, her position within the agency should not determine any special treatment but she should also get the same treatment as everyone else. God bless her and her babies.

Submitted by Lisa Presley on Sun, 06/22/2008 - 11:29pm.

I am in complete agreement with you. It is about time someone has recognized the incompetence and racism that has been occurring in that office and taken action. Now if we can just get Donna Underwood reassigned (preferably to the dog pound since she thinks that you can treat kids like puppies and just get them new owners because they are "resilient") then we will really be making progress. I am not commenting on the Clarke case because I don't know the whole story, but for a long time there has been a trend of abuse of authority and a lack of integrity in that office and I am glad see changes being made. Quite frankly I am disgusted that it has taken this long. It has been more than a year since news articles appeared delaring Fayette County to be the "Child snatching capitol of America" but there was little outcry from the community because unfortunately the people most often targeted are those who have no way of fighting back. Remove and traumatize the kids now and investigate later was the standing policy. Hopefully this will change now with Davis' removal. I have to wonder though...Putting her in customer service? I thought you had to know what you were doing before you could help solve customer's problems...

Parenting Classes - $400
Psychological Examination - $600
Anger Management Classes - $500
Lawyer to defend against DFCS - $5,000
Seeing these women removed from power and children of Fayette County protected from further victimization by the system - PRICELESS

Submitted by whatisright on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 5:05pm.

Tsk Tsk Tsk Lisa Presley...Perhaps it is YOU that should be removed from your "power" position. You wouldn't know racism if it bit you in the butt! And it is quite clear why you've obviously had to spend over $6500 of your money in a DFCS situation. People who don't beat their children don't have to pay money. Again, I'll just reiterate my point before. The only people happy about "reassignments" in Fayette County DFCS are child beating, baby neglecting, sexually molesting inhuman nothings whom I'm surprised even have the nerve to make a public statement. Go pat yourself on the back Ms. Presley for being parent of the year.

Submitted by spectator on Mon, 06/23/2008 - 2:41pm.

News articles declared "Fayette County to be the child snatching capitol of America" and obviously you believe this. Further investigation shows this statement was not made by a GA agency or organiztion. It was made by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform located in Alexandria, VA. NCCPR is not a U.S. governmental or non-profit agency.
This is the NCCPR's statment.
" For the past several years, NCCPR has published a rate-of-removal index comparing the propensity of states to adopt a “take-the-child-and-run” approach to child welfare. The index compares the number of children taken from their parents in each state during the most recent
year for which data are available to a Census Bureau estimate of the number of children living in poverty in that state. The result is the number of removals of children from their homes for every 1,000 impoverished children in that state."
I hope you now understand that Fayette County is not the child snatching capitol of America.

Submitted by OneWhoKnows on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 2:01pm.

First and foremost, you talk about keeping families intact but that should never trump the rights (and, yes, our state recognizes that it is a RIGHT) of children to live in a safe, abuse-free home.

When we give the state the right to tell us that we can or cannot discipline our children then and only then will our children develop the attitude that says to his/her parent "you can't tell me what to do and if you hit me I will have you put in jail!".

This is the dumbest argument made in favor of Clark The Convicted Felon I've seen, yet. Obviously, you don’t realize that you’re admitting that you are so devoid of creativity that you cannot think of anything other than beating your children. Don’t take away the video games. Don’t limit phone and television privileges. Don’t make them do extra chores or have to get the toilet spotless, pick up dog poop, weed the garden or give up their favorite fun activity for a week. No. That might mean you have to do some follow-up to enforce that. Just go the lazy route and beat ‘em.

There are policies and procedures that are in place set forth by the state of Georgia. We all have a right to discipline our children set forth by the very state that we live in.

You are absolutely right. Let’s look at some of those policies and procedures, shall we?

Chapter 2100 of the Social Services Manual reflects DHR policies and procedures regarding Child Protective Services.

  1. Policy number 2104.23 titled “Case Determination”, identifies the following Practice/Procedure issues:

    Judgment is critical in CPS determinations for cases that involve discipline or punishment. Parents have rights to discipline their children, and they are not prohibited by law to use corporal punishment (See 2101.3). Discipline is teaching children right from wrong, guiding and directing behavior, correcting and setting limits. Punishment involves intention to correct behavior by inflicting a penalty or some pain through more serious actions. When making a case determination, consider the age of the child, the location of the injury, the size and vulnerability of the child and whether the parent's explanation supports what is observed. (emphasis original)

  2. Policy number 2101.3 titled “Statement of Principles” (which was, curiously, amended in February of this year) states, in part:

    Parents have enormous freedom and control over decisions affecting their children, and they have the right to discipline and punish children as they determine appropriate. Law does not prohibit using corporal punishment.

  3. Policy number 2101.5 defines Corporal Punishment as follows:

    This is any physical punishment of a child to inflict pain as a deterrent to wrong doing. It may produce transitory pain and potential bruising. If pain and bruising are not excessive or unduly severe and result only in short-term discomfort, this is not considered maltreatment.

  4. Policy number 2101.5 (linked above) also defines Child Abuse (consistent with Georgia Code section 19-7-5) to include:

    Physical injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker by other than accidental means; provided however, physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child (emphasis added)

Now, let’s look at the facts that came out in court before Ms. Clark finally decided to take responsibility for her actions.

Ms. Clark administered Punishment with a belt that was severe enough to inflict 30 marks on her child’s back, arm and leg. The belt she used was thicker than the belt she would normally use. (Translation: she was so enraged that she was out of control.) Prior to administering that Punishment, she made the child strip down to her underwear, which, no doubt, caused the child humiliation and additional pain to her bare skin. All of that, clearly, fits within the meaning of “Child Abuse” as defined in DFCS policy and Georgia Law and, Ms. Clark’s punishment fits the crime of which she is now convicted.

So, don’t give me the “DFCS-won’t-let-parents-discipline-their-child” whine. DFCS and the State of Georgia just won’t let you abuse your child. The law is clear and Judge Edwards and the outcome of this case were absolutely correct.

I, too, pray for Ms. Clark’s children and the trauma she put them through. And I pray for Ms. Clark because, no doubt, her relationship with her children will suffer as a result of her criminal behavior.

And I pray for Mary Davis, who was the victim of vicious and vindictive retaliation for doing her job and following DFCS policy in asking the court to remove Ms. Clark’s children from her abusive ways.

There endeth the lesson.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 12:00am.

When someone hits a child over his/her face and body 34 times with a belt and belt buckle that is not discipline but outright child abuse. If you feel this is okay, I will be the first in line to offer you the opportunity to see what it feels like. Any parent who cannot discipline a child without that kind of abuse does not deserve to have children. Ms. Clark, whose position gave her the authority to have children removed from homes should have known better than most what the rules were. I am not a child-rearing-self-help-book-reading namby pamby mother. I raised four children and disciplined them when needed. When I felt I was too angry to handle the situation I sent them to their rooms until I had myself under control. Too many times children who can do nothing to protect themselves are sent back into homes where they are again abused, often resulting in being further abused and sometimes killed. I am all for keeping a family together but not at the expense of a an innocent defenseless child. DFACS in this area is sorely broken. Each time a child ends up severly beaten or dead, DFACS says they are changing procedures only to have it happen again and again. Ms. Clark had no more right to be in the position she held at DEFACS than I do to be performing brain surgery-and from your letter- someone should be looking out for your poor children.

Submitted by SoccerMom666 on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 9:12pm.

Finally, someone who understands what we parents are up against…

As a model, upstanding, church-going member of a perfect society, and a mom, I would be remiss if I failed to uphold discipline in my own household. I certainly do not want to be the cobbler with a son who has no shoes so I make sure that he wears some. Children are rough, misshapen stones meant to be chiseled into submission with force and any appropriate tools at one’s disposal. It is my divine right as a parent if chose, frothing and foaming at the mouth with exuberance, to whip my rigid, unfeeling child again and again with the belt of righteousness. I wish to sculpt a model citizen in my own image and when my creative emotions require an outlet periodically, the impermeable skin of the child I once sustained life for and felt promising, joyful kicks in my womb from, serves as the ideal canvass for expressing my thoughts and ideals. The fair-complexioned oppressors who would dare to question my methods just don't have an appreciation for fine art. After all, I am a morally upstanding, dignified, and accomplished member of society, and no one can tell me that I should not scar my child with enduring physical and emotional damage. Perhaps they just do not share my aesthetic and moral sensibilities, and they sure are not able to recognize good parenting when they see it.

Submitted by whatisright on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 7:19pm.

So you want to discipline your children, huh? Do you know how to do so without beating them up? It's your right? You give birth to your children, so that gives you the right to take a belt to them, and slap their bare skin with that belt over 30 times. But, all in the name of discipline, right? Perhaps a parenting class to help you deal with your anger and rage would be more appropriate. You say Mary Davis and Donna Underwood were "horrible" and "ruined the agency." Well let's see how wonderful the agency is now. Abusers, Molesters, Neglectors of Fayette County rejoice. You've just gotten a free ticket to ride. With Clayton County now supposedly running Fayette County and the introduction of the new Abuse Pyramid, let's see how safe our children are. Children and babies, when you just don't understand why no one is there to protect you and hear your cries, look to the top and the "Pyramid." We're sorry, but we just can't protect YOU today. We're too busy "reassigning" people who are there to take care of you. Sshalegg, sounds like you may have had a personal experience with Fayette DFCS. Your kids may be beaten and bruised, but at least they don't have an "attitude," right? Others of you in the Fayette community who are there to protect children, please step up. Because I guarantee the state's abuse quota may be a perfect pyramid, but there will be children out there who've been turned away.
God Bless women who beat their children? I don't think so. God Bless those who love and protect their children.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 1:18pm.

I knew, or thought you were referring to the earlier blog from sshalegg or whoever, who said in all earnesty that they felt they had the right to beat their child as they saw fit, and was a champion of Clark.

Submitted by MYTMITE on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 10:59pm.

When she made the above comments. Some people just don't get it.

Submitted by whatisright on Sat, 06/21/2008 - 9:23am.

Touche' MYTMITE. Exhibit A: Observe time of Soccer Mom's post. Exhibit B: Observe time of my post. Exhibit C: Remove foot from mouth. Some people just don't get it.

Submitted by Davids mom on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 1:26pm.

As I'm researching this case - it appears that politics has trumped reason.

Submitted by wheeljc on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 1:49pm.

My, My!! Wonder if we will acquiesce to Clayton in the future? Does this mean that our new Sheriff will bring on Sheriff Victor Hill as a consultant? Or better yet, does that mean that Dr. DeCotis will seek Superintendent Thompson as an adviser in improving test scores and management of a BOE? Who has overwatch authority in Fayette for such calls?

This one does not pass the smell test!

Submitted by fayettefosterdad on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 11:16am.

The clarifying statement is that DFCS is a statewide organization, with regions. The regional headquarters that includes Fayette county is in Clayton county. This isn't a case of one county taking over another- often people from the regional office will work with other counties.

People helping with child welfare and child safety should not be stopped at the county border- the kids are more important than some imaginary line. Fayette county too often succumbs to a paranoia every time the word 'Clayton' is uttered- this article panders to that paranoia.

Those of us familiar with the situation can see the truth of this 'reassignment'- it's pure retribution for Mrs. Davis being brazen enough to stand up to the Fulton county folks in the Clark case. The attempts to push an abuse case under the rug, and the incredible abuses of power involved in the way the case has been handled by the Fulton county office need attention- serious attention. That Mrs. Davis needs to take yet another beating for it is regrettable.

Mrs. Davis has been the greatest advocate Fayette county could ask for in defense of our children and support of our community. To lose her is to lose one of our most valued assets. Those of us in the foster care system are saddened by this decision.

Submitted by spectator on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 10:02am.

I think Mary Davis lives in AL but works for the state of GA.Although living in the area is not a job requirement and does not ensure proficiency, perhaps residence should be a consideration. Please correct me if I am wrong.

sam0917's picture
Submitted by sam0917 on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 7:24am.

Okay, can someone please help me out here and explain what in the world this article is talking about in respect to Clayton County making decisions for Fayette County DFACS. I'm just a little confused and would like some clarification from anyone in the know. Thanks in advance.

Submitted by localyocal on Fri, 06/20/2008 - 7:57am.

I agree with some type of clarification, Clayton County has such a great history of dealing with there own children why are they mandating Fayette County children. Maybe DFACS could start helping the new school board from Clayton!

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