Two DHS child-welfare workers said Tuesday they expect to be fired over the Serenity Deal case.
Pottawatomie County supervisor Jennifer Shawn expects to be fired Thursday.
Pottawatomie County specialist Randy J. Lack expects to be fired Sept. 21.
Their attorney said they will continue to fight to be vindicated. The attorney, Pete Serrata, said the next step will be to appeal to the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission.
The Department of Human Services is seeking to terminate them on grounds of misconduct and dishonesty. They now are on administrative leave.
Shawn said they are being made “scapegoats for this.”
“I'm just angry. I'm angry because it's not accurate. It's not true,” said Shawn, 32, who has worked for DHS since 2006.
“This isn't just your reputation,” she also said.
“It's your entire life. … Are we going to have to get a legal name change? I don't know what it's going to take to be able to find a job anywhere else. I mean, are we going to be reduced to waiting tables?”
Serenity, 5, died in June from a beating while with her father. The girl began living with her father full time in Oklahoma City in May on DHS' recommendation.
The girl was placed with her father, Sean Devon Brooks, even though she was injured twice in January during overnight visits with him.
DHS was involved because Serenity's mother had been accused of molesting a boy.
Brooks, 31, now is charged with first-degree murder.
Lack, 58, has worked for DHS for 11 years and has eight children. He said he did nothing wrong in recommending that Serenity be placed with her father, given the information he had. “I don't have a crystal ball. I couldn't possibly have known any of this was going to happen,” he said.
Both workers pointed out in their defense that the evidence about Serenity's injuries in January was that they were from accidents. They said Serenity and her father said she ran into a door frame the first time. “It was obvious that she had ran into a door,” Lack said.
The workers said Serenity and her father said he accidentally dropped her the second time she was hurt in January. “The medical professionals agreed it was consistent with a fall,” Lack said.
Shawn said, “She was not a child that lied.”
Lack said he was overseeing the welfare of about 45 children at the time he was handling Serenity's case. “I don't think I've ever had less than 40 kids. We're supposed to have 15 kids,” Lack said.
Shawn acknowledged somebody in DHS should have interviewed Brooks' other children and their mother. Brooks' ex-girlfriend has said she would have told DHS she considered him too violent to be around their three children.
Shawn said, “You have all of these families that you're dealing with so things don't get done.”