Published: Jul 06, 2012 07:10 PM
Modified: Jul 06, 2012 07:11 PM
Michael Becketts has been hired as the new director of the Durham County Department of Social Services.
Becketts served as the deputy director of the Baltimore Department of Social Services and oversaw a workforce of 1,100 staff and a budget of approximately $100 million. One of his major accomplishments in Baltimore was the implementation of strategies exiting over 800 children from the foster care system, according to a news release.
He has master’s degrees in social work from University of Maryland and health administration from the University of Baltimore. He has also been on the faculty of the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work.
“Mr. Becketts has a wealth of diverse experiences, having been a deputy director for the state Of Maryland’s Office of Licensing and Monitoring, the social work director at Johns Hopkins Infectious Disease Department, and a clinical manager for a sex offender treatment program,” said Stan Holt, chairman of the DSS board.
“I am confident that Michael will provide excellent leadership for the Department of Social Services and support our mission to partner with families and communities in achieving well-being through prosperity, permanence, safety and support for all Durham residents,” Holt said.
Becketts will be paid an annual salary of $129,000.
He succeeds Gail Perry, who served as interim director of the Department of Social Services after the board dismissed former director Gerri Robinson.
Robinson has filed a lawsuit contending county and DSS officials violated her civil rights when they ignored her complaints about County Commissioner Joe Bowser, who she says in turn maliciously orchestrated her July 2011 firing.
In responses filed in April, Durham County attorneys argue the court lacks jurisdiction and that elected and appointed county officials acting in their official capacities are immune to such claims.
The lawsuit contends Bowser overstepped his bounds as a commissioner and DSS board member and interfered in the agency’s day-to-day affairs. Robinson claims Bowser encouraged her to ignore court orders in certain child care cases and asked her to hire former City Manager Marcia Conner.
In the lawsuit, Robinson names the Board of County Commissioners; the DSS board; Holt; Perry; and Bowser as defendants. The complaint, however, is largely aimed at Bowser, the only person named as an individual as well as in his capacity as a county commissioner and a DSS board member. Other defendants are named in their official capacity.
The case has been moved from Durham County Superior Court to federal court..
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