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6 fired for closing Arizona child abuse reports

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Six state workers were fired today, in connection to the more than 6,000 child abuse reports that were never investigated. Five of those who lost their jobs were CPS supervisors.

The investigation into CPS started in December after it was revealed that the agency systematically chose not to investigate more than 6,000 reports of child abuse or neglect in part, because field workers were overloaded with cases.

On Wednesday, the new CPS director fired five upper level managers saying they were responsible for the dysfunctional system.

"The whole mission of this group of employees changed from trying to help resolve cases that were backlogged to avoid these cases from ever getting out into the field knowing it was not authorized and against policy," said Charles Flanagan.

The firings come as the Department of Public Safety wrapped up its four month investigation turning in a thousand page report on the wrongdoings of 6 state employees.

The report lists Deborah Harper, Tracey Everitt, Jan Leineweber, Michelle Parker, Janet Sabol, and Sharon Sergent as all playing a role in the un-investigated cases.

"They basically made decisions to do things that they did not have the authority to do and because there was a lack of systems and processes and policies that led to them being able to do it without any oversight... And then on top of that it was a dysfunctional thinking anyway because really all they were doing was hiding work," said Flanagan.

Instead of assigning thousands of cases reported to c p s from the abuse hotline the fired supervisors the reports to be labelled "n i", or not investigated.

Last December Governor Jan Brewer created a special investigative team to go over the uninvestigated reports.  As a result, more than 500 kids have been removed from their homes 500 kids whose safety was in danger and whose reports had been ignored.

The new director of CPS says new policies and rules will be put into place, so this does not happen again.

"People were able to do things in secret ultimately for a very long period," he said.

All six of the fired employees were at will employees, meaning they could be fired without cause. The attorney for the five  workers calls their firings unfair he says they were asked to come up with a plan to address the backlog of cases and that their superiors knew about it. The attorney says he's looking into a wrongful termination lawsuit.
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