State regulators have busted the Shuman Juvenile Detention Facility down to a provisional license, saying reforms following an allegation of abuse were inadequate.
According to an April 24 notice from the state Department of Public Welfare, the county facility has until Oct. 18 to turn over a new leaf after weathering accusations that a guard slammed a 16-year-old into a door frame earlier this year -- and that leaders waited four days to report it.
"They've revoked the license," said county manager William McKain. "I'm awaiting Shuman's revised corrective action plan -- we're continuing to work on the implementation of the action steps that are in there."
It's the first official state sanction against the beleaguered facility in Lincoln-Lemington since the January incident, which ended in Shuman guard Ronald White's arrest and subsequent firing. After three inspections, state public welfare investigators concluded the 16-year-old's accusations had merit and that senior staffers dragged their feet in reporting it, according to state reports.
Shuman director William "Jack" Simmons and deputy director Lynette Drawn-Williamson both served one-week suspensions following the incident.
In his initial response to state regulators, Mr. Simmons was defiant, saying he didn't believe any policy had been violated. The only reason supervisors didn't report the incident, he wrote, was that everyone initially believed it was an accident.
When asked to detail his reforms, Mr. Simmons didn't offer much, saying he would continue training staff to follow the rules.
That plan was promptly rejected by the state -- and drew the ire of Mr. McKain, who oversees Shuman.
"I was disappointed with the corrective action plan that was submitted," he said.
Mr. McKain's rebuke was much stronger a few months ago, when he released a report on Shuman that criticized irregular discipline, faulty accounting and a growing disconnect between staff and management.
Though he didn't mention Mr. Simmons by name, the county manager wrote that Shuman's leaders needed to work better with employees to make the facility a better place for children.
Former and current staff say working conditions have worsened under Mr. Simmons' leadership, complaining of favoritism in promotions and arbitrary punishment. Last year, several dozen employees signed a petition asking county Executive Rich Fitzgerald to investigate the facility.
Andrew McGill: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1497. First Published May 3, 2013 4:15 PM