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Oklahoma lawmakers pass DHS reform bill

A bill drafted in response to a Midwest City student with severe disabilities who died after DHS workers failed to respond appropriately to repeated allegations of abuse and neglect sailed through the Oklahoma state Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday.
by Randy Ellis Modified: May 22, 2014 at 7:34 pm •  Published: May 22, 2014
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The state Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday easily passed a bill drafted in response to a student with severe disabilities who died after state Department of Human Services workers failed to respond appropriately to repeated allegations of abuse and neglect.

The measure now goes to the governor.

House Bill 3469 was named the Quinten Douglas Wood Act in honor of a 15-year-old Midwest City student who died Jan. 4, 2013, after state Department of Human Services employees failed to properly investigate calls from his sister, who alleged he was being neglected in his Oklahoma City home.

The sister, Valerie Wood-Harber, lives in Arkansas. She said she called DHS 22 times between Dec. 17, 2012, and Jan. 3, 2013, but her complaints of neglect were not properly investigated. She has since pressed for reforms of Oklahoma’s child welfare laws and was in the House gallery with another brother Thursday when the measure was approved.

DHS child welfare worker Rachel Qualls and supervisor Paul Kim Myers have been charged with criminal wrongdoing in connection with the death.

The bill the House passed would require DHS workers who receive abuse or neglect complaints to give special consideration when the alleged victim is a child with complex medical needs or disabilities that inhibit the alleged victim from communicating effectively.

The bill passed the Senate 42-0 and passed the House 84-2.

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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