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Arkansas woman says Oklahoma's DHS failed her brother

An Arkansas woman says 22 desperate telephone calls to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services failed to persuade anyone to come to the aid of her 15-year-old Oklahoma special needs brother, whom she believed was suffering from neglect.
by Randy Ellis Modified: January 7, 2014 at 9:15 pm •  Published: January 7, 2014

An Arkansas woman says 22 desperate telephone calls to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services failed to persuade anyone to come to the aid of her 15-year-old Oklahoma special needs brother, whom she believes was suffering from neglect.

Her brother, Quinten Wood, is now dead.

Valerie Wood-Harber wants Gov. Mary Fallin to see that a similar situation never happens again in this state.

Wood-Harber, 28, of Fayetteville, Ark., showed up at Gov. Fallin's office Tuesday to deliver the results of an online petition drive that gathered more than 460,000 electronic signatures from throughout the nation.

The petition expresses “outrage at the dysfunction” of Oklahoma's child welfare system and calls for a “full criminal prosecution of Quinten Wood's neglector(s), as well as the full censure of the state agencies, public schools, and teachers that sat by and let this defenseless child die.”

Wood-Harber says Quinten had a rare chromosomal disorder that rendered him unable to care for his own most basic needs.

Quinten lived with his father and a younger brother, Cameron, in a home along the border of Oklahoma City and Midwest City, she said. The teenager attended Midwest City High School.

Wood-Harber said she became alarmed in late 2012 after Cameron, who was a year younger than Quinten, told her that their father had repeatedly left him alone as the caregiver for Quinten for the past two years.

“Cameron was being left alone to take care of Quinten,” Wood-Harber said. “He was responsible for all of his daily care. He would get up with him in the morning and get him ready for school. He was responsible for … bathing him, diapering him, feeding him, cooking dinner, everything.”

Being an adult, Wood-Harber said it was obvious to her that was too much to expect of a 13- or 14-year-old child.

“He told me that he wanted to kill himself,” Wood-Harber said.

Wood-Harber says she got on the telephone and called DHS.

“I called DHS 22 times in between the dates of Dec. 17, 2012, and Jan. 3, 2013,” she said.

She said DHS sent a worker to talk to Cameron at school and to attempt to talk to Quinten, but the worker failed to follow up. She said her other telephone calls apparently elicited no response, even though she repeatedly asked to speak with supervisors in an attempt to go up the chain of command.

“My reports of neglect went uninvestigated by DHS. They went unreported by his public school that he attended. I was told that I needed to mind my own business, that he was fine, when he was dying,” she said.

Click here to sign the Change.org online petition

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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