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Oklahoma DHS workers say they will fight expected firings

Two Oklahoma Department of Human Services workers deny wrongdoing in Serenity Deal case.
BY NOLAN CLAY nclay@opubco.com Modified: September 13, 2011 at 10:26 pm •  Published: September 14, 2011
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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.

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