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Md. juvenile services chief to step down

By the Associated Press

Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Secretary Donald DeVore said Thursday he won't seek reappointment to the post, after a difficult tenure marked by a critical state audit and a variety of unfavorable reports by an independent state monitor.

DeVore, 61, said he is pursuing a job opportunity in another state.

"A new job opportunity presented itself and I felt it was the right time to pursue it," DeVore, who has headed the long-troubled agency since March 2007, said in a statement.

DeVore's announcement came a day after he was criticized by Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot for long delays in bringing contracts to the Board of Public Works for approval. A state audit also cited the delays last month.

Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O'Malley, said the governor expected some turnover in his Cabinet as he prepares for his second term. He said a national search will be conducted for DeVore's replacement, with the goal of naming a successor by the start of the General Assembly session in January.

"DJS is a long-troubled agency and certainly was in a lot worse shape when Gov. O'Malley and Don DeVore inherited it," Adamec said. "The biggest priority is going to be maintaining and improving the pace of progress."

There were bright spots during DeVore's tenure. Maryland's juvenile facilities are no longer under federal oversight. Both Charles Hickey School and Cheltenham Youth Facility exited from federal oversight in June 2008. The final facility, the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center, successfully exited from federal oversight in August 2010.

But the department was often criticized in reports by the state's independent juvenile justice monitor.

The Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit issued a special report last month criticizing the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Prince George's County over the killing of a 65-year-old teacher there in February, allegedly by a 13-year-old boy detained there.

"Some responsibility for her death must be placed on Cheltenham's outdated buildings and a compromised security culture," the report said. "Responsibility must also be placed on the departmental leadership that should have addressed these issues."

The monitor also criticized the department last year, saying it "hampered" an investigation into a violent escape of 14 youths at the Victor Cullen Center in Sabillasville.

By the Associated Press  | November 19, 2010; 7:36 AM ET
Categories:  Juvenile Justice, Maryland  
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