Five former state employees have been accused of abusing patients at Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute and the TBI is investigating, according to WSMV-TV. “If those vulnerable patients are being mistreated by state employees, harmed or injured, we need action,” said State Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville.
…The five former employees (not named in the report) are accused of abusing two patients, one of them confirmed by the I-Team to be Matthew McDougal of Brentwood.
The termination records read that in two separate instances, once in April, and another in May, employees inflicted bodily injuries on McDougal and the other patient.
The reported abuse occurred in the forensic services program, where some of the most at-risk patients are located.
“If a patient is abused in that situation, there’s a failure of the system,” said Jeff Fladen, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
A spokeswoman for the TBI confirms on May 23, some 22 days after the last reported abuse, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health, which oversees the institute, asked the TBI to investigate.
The five employees were then fired the next month.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Department of Human Services has terminated its former budget coordinator after an audit found he failed to file reports to the federal government.
According to The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/15R6QuU), the audit stated Adeniyi Bakare had problems filing documents online for millions of dollars’ worth of federally funded programs. Auditors said Bakare didn’t contact federal agencies to see why the errors occurred.
The newspaper said Bakare, whose employment ended July 5, couldn’t be contacted for comment. Officials said the failure to file reports was a major factor in his dismissal.
“We take the audit very seriously because it speaks to how we operate,” said Basil Dosunmu, DHS deputy commissioner of finance and administration. “We know we have a role in fiscal stewardship.”
Grants have not been revoked, but auditors noted that failing to account for them could result in forfeiting funds.
Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips has fired Fiscal Services Administrator Ron Jones effective Wednesday, reports The Tennessean. Jones had been in charge of the department’s operating budget of more than $250 million, while overseeing facilities, procurement and telecommunications, according to a biography on the state government website.
Former commissioner Karla Davis chose Jones for the role in July 2011.
Davis, and two other top officials she hired, resigned in mid-March, just days before publication of auditors’ sharp criticisms of the department, which failed to monitor fraud and delayed sending checks to thousands of out-of-work Tennesseans.
Hiring in Davis’s administration has led to two lawsuits charging that leaders discriminated against white employees by forcing them out and hiring black replacements. Davis and three hand-picked officials who have since resigned are black.
The University of Tennessee has fired the director of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and hired a local lawyer to investigate whether she had improper relationships with student-athletes, reports the News Sentinel.
Jenny Wright, an office employee since 2008, tried to step down from her position Thursday, but UT refused to accept her resignation. Instead, Provost Susan Martin sent Wright a pre-termination letter Friday.
“Based on information we have received to date, and based on your refusal to cooperate in an investigation into allegations regarding your actions, the university has reason to believe that grounds exist to terminate your employment for unsatisfactory work-related behavior,” Martin wrote in an email Friday.
Wright was given the chance to meet Monday to discuss her status, but she did not show up, documents show. Martin sent another letter Monday informing Wright that she was fired.
The university began looking into accusations of improper behavior before hiring Beecher Bartlett,a Knoxville attorney with a background in employment cases, last week.
UT declined to release any documents related to the probe while it’s ongoing. Bartlett also declined to give any details about the accusations, how many students may be involved and how the officials first learned of the alleged behavior.
Four days after the Davidson County Election Commission fired its top administrator, the State Election Commission accepted the final version of the blistering review that led to his termination, reports The Tennessean. The panel approved State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins’ report with little discussion Monday afternoon. Chairman Kent Younce said he didn’t see “any useful purpose” in dissecting the report after the Davidson County Election Commission voted 4-1 Thursday to fire Election Administrator Albert Tieche.
Goins made a few changes to his draft of the report but still found “an unacceptable pattern of serious errors” throughout the 2012 election cycle, which “led to an erosion of confidence” in Davidson County’s election operations.
The review found problems with legal notices, sample ballots, voting technology, staffing at polling places and other practices. It criticized Tieche for failing to open early voting for the presidential preference primary on a Saturday, a mistake the State Election Commission reprimanded him for a year ago.
Goins noted that the Davidson County Election Commission “has acknowledged ‘various irregularities or mistakes’ in its response to this review.”
Albert Tieche is out at the Davidson County Election Commission, and Commissioner Jim Gotto announced he will be leaving as well, reports The City Paper. After a heated meeting where tempers where high and accusations flew, the commission voted 4 to 1 to fire Tieche from his post as administrator of elections. The decision follows a highly critical report from the state, detailing numerous problems with the execution of elections over the last year.
Before the vote, Gotto — a newly appointed Republican commissioner — accused Chairman Ron Buchanan of “fast-tracking” the process, and harboring a “deep personal bias” against Tieche. Gotto will remain on the commission through July 31, or until state Republicans can find a replacement.
“You’ve lost my respect and my trust,” Gotto told Buchanan, to loud applause from a room full of Republican activists who shared his displeasure with the chairman.
Both Tieche and Gotto left the meeting without comment.
Tieche appeared to be in trouble from the minute the meeting was called to order. As the crowded hearing room of reporters, activists, and a couple of Metro Council members looked on, a clearly agitated Buchanan began a lengthy statement by addressing the stream of mean emails he had received in recent weeks, some of which he said may have even crossed the line into being criminally threatening.
He also denied the rumors in those emails that he had been appointed with a directive to fire Tieche. In fact, he said, the only directive he and the other new commissioners received, aside from carrying out the duties of the commission, was to stay out of the headlines. Buchanan acknowledged that they had “failed miserably” at that goal.
The chairman went on to summarize a number of problems cited in state Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins’ review of the commission, including failure to open on a Saturday during early voting, understaffed and under-resourced polling places, inadequately trained poll workers, and issuing conflicting reports regarding voter participation to the state. Along the way, Buchanan rejected just about every defense Tieche had offered for the failings.
A House panel on Wednesday quickly advanced a bill that would block employers, businesses, colleges and churches’ ability to bar handgun-carry permit holders from storing firearms in vehicles parked on their property, reports the Chattanooga TFP. But the bill’s sponsor acknowledges that nothing in the measure would prevent employers from legally firing permit-holding workers who keep guns in their vehicles while on the job.
Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, said the Senate-passed bill doesn’t protect permit holders from Tennessee’s existing “at will” employment law.
That law allows employers to fire, suspend or discipline workers for any reason, good or bad, or for no reason at all.
“We are not going to dictate policy-setting at a business,” Faison said in response to a question posed to him during the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Faison said “if a business decides to fire someone or to reprimand someone, that is their rule. … You can fire, this is an at-will state and they’ll still be able to do whatever they want with a person who has a gun in their car.”
Speaking to reporters later, Faison said, “I would discourage [businesses firing workers] and I hope that businesses won’t go that way. I would say if there was an uprising in the state and you started seeing people being fired left and right I wouldn’t be surprised if the Legislature revisited it.”
But he said, “I don’t know of any company who’s just eager to go fire their employees. They already know who has guns” and don’t do it now.
From a Chattanooga TFP story: The ostensible reason for firing former Bradley County deputy Dallas Longwith was that he was seen mowing the yard in December, wearing only his underwear.
The real reason Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth fired him a year ago, Longwith claims in a federal lawsuit, is Longwith was open about plans to support state Rep. Eric Watson if he runs against Ruth next year.
“It had nothing to do with work-related stuff — it was just to get rid of me because I had an affiliation with the man who might be the next sheriff of Bradley County,” Longwith told the Times Free Press.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, seeks $1.5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
In it, Longwith claims that Ruth, a Republican, “systematically demoted, cut pay and/or changed the shifts of Sheriff’s deputies who had openly supported” Democrat Steve Lawson.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and reinstated the trial court’s judgment awarding a Memphis teacher back pay and damages after the board failed to comply with the Teacher Tenure Act when it dismissed her.
Saundra Thompson, a tenured teacher in the Memphis City Schools, was terminated by the school board in April 2007 for failing to return to work after taking extended sick time. The board did not provide written charges or an opportunity for a hearing prior to the termination.
Ms. Thompson filed suit alleging violation of the Tenure Act and right to due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United State Constitution. She was granted summary judgment and awarded reinstatement, back pay, damages and legal fees of $325,419. On appeal by the school board, the Court of Appeals remanded the case after it determined a factual dispute existed as to whether Ms. Thompson requested more sick leave prior to her termination, or whether she forfeited her tenure by making no such request.
The Supreme Court, in its holding today, reverses the Court of Appeals decision and affirms the trial court’s summary judgment, determining that, although a tenured teacher’s failure to return from sick leave may constitute cause for termination, there is no statute authorizing a board of education to deem it a constructive resignation or a forfeiture of tenure. The Court notes that by dismissing Ms. Thompson without providing her with written charges or an opportunity for a hearing, the defendant board of education violated her rights under the Tennessee Teacher Tenure Act and her constitutional right to due process of law.
To read the Saundra Thompson v. Memphis City Schools Board of Education opinion, authored by Justice Cornelia A. Clark, visit the opinions sections of TNCourts.gov.
An aide to Sen. Ophelia Ford was fired Tuesday in the wake of a TNReport story that showed him apparently conducting political work while collecting his state paycheck. “As of today, Derek Hummel’s employment with the Tennessee General Assembly has been terminated,” Office of Legislative Administration official Tammy Rather told TNReport via email.
Hummel had been executive secretary for Ford, D-Memphis, since April, drawing a $30,468 annual salary. He’s also been working for the Phillip North campaign, a Democrat locked in a tight race against Republican Steve Dickerson for a Davidson County state Senate seat.
Full story HERE. Previous post HERE.