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Governor, House speaker right to demand more from DHS oversight board

Oklahoman Published: September 9, 2011

GOV. Mary Fallin is demanding more from the Oklahoma Human Services Commission, the board that oversees the Department of Human Services. Oklahomans should hope she gets it.

Fallin on Wednesday named former Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane and businessman Brad Yarbrough to the commission. Yarbrough will serve the remaining five years of the term of Bob Rawlings, who resigned, and will take over as commission chairman. Lane replaces George Young, whose nine-year term expired.

The governor said she was concerned about the “appearance of lax oversight” by the commission. There is every reason to be concerned. Consider how little we have heard from commission members after high-profile cases in which children have been harmed or even killed while in the DHS system.

The latest example is that of Serenity Deal, a 5-year-old Pottawatomie County girl who was placed with her biological father despite concerns raised by case workers. In June, not long after the placement, Serenity was beaten to death. Her father is charged with first-degree murder.

One of the case workers, who fought against placing Serenity with her father, later committed suicide. Another retired. Two others are in the process of being fired. The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, a watchdog agency, highlighted the breakdowns that occurred within DHS in Serenity's case, and House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, has led the call for more openness and accountability from DHS.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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