5 fired CPS workers file suit to clear names - CBS 5 - KPHO

5 fired CPS workers file suit to clear names

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Charles Flanagan is director of the state's child safety division. (Source: CBS 5 News) Charles Flanagan is director of the state's child safety division. (Source: CBS 5 News)
A list with the names of four of the five fired CPS workers. Michelle Parker is the fifth. (Source: CBS 5 News) A list with the names of four of the five fired CPS workers. Michelle Parker is the fifth. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Five fired top level social workers are banding together and fighting to clear their names.

This comes after a Department of Public Safety investigation held them responsible for creating a system where 6,500 child abuse claims slipped through the cracks.

"This group was directly involved in creating, in morphing and changing the system and implementing it," said the director of the state's child safety division Charles Flanagan.

Attorney Terry Woods represents the five women.

Among them are CPS Administrator Deborah Harper, CPS Program Manager Tracey Everitt, as well as other senior staffers, Jan Leineweber, Michelle Parker and Janet Sabol.

Woods called his clients scapegoats.

"I think that director Flanagan was looking to lay the blame and he landed at least one or two levels too low," said Woods.

According to Woods, Harper was called on by the deputy director of the Department of Economic Security Sharon Sergent to create a team of experienced social workers. It was their job to devise a plan to deal with the agency's massive back log.

"There was no adherence to policy or to procedure. There were people who knew that this was questionable if not wrong from a statutory perspective and they did it anyway," said Flanagan.

Emails show Tracey Everitt warned others not to use the term "NI" or not investigated because it was against the law not to look into a case.

Another email questioning "NI" quotes Harper as being OK with not staffing a case unless "the media is involved."

"My clients overall position is that they've been fired for doing something they were directed to do and were supervised in doing," said Woods.

The investigation found no evidence that Clarence Carter who was the head of the Department of Economic security, overseeing CPS ever had any knowledge about the unethical, out of policy and illegal practices of not investigating cases.

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