Recent Articles from NewsOK and The Oklahoman

  • DHS foster child deported within months of aging out of system

    BY GINNIE GRAHAM, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Sep 28, 2015

    Foster mother Tylisha Oliver drove pregnant, 18-year-old Gabriella Portillo to a meeting asked by her foster daughter’s parole officer. She had a feeling something wasn’t right because it was an unusual request. But meeting all the sentence stipulations on a youthful offender guilty plea was...

  • Oklahoma DHS shelter director retires rather than fight termination over handcuffing of children

    BY NOLAN CLAY Staff Writer | Updated: Sat, Aug 29, 2015

    Rebecca L. Price resigned by letter Tuesday. She had worked for DHS since 1984 and been director of the Pauline E. Mayer Shelter since May 2010. DHS officials suspended Price with pay on April 17 and replaced two off-duty, armed law enforcement officers who had handcuffed children.

  • Jari Askins tries to employ foster care reform plan

    By TIM TALLEY Associated Press | Updated: Wed, Aug 26, 2015

    Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jari Askins may be facing her toughest challenge: implementing a court-ordered plan to improve the state's foster care system to better protect children in Oklahoma's child welfare system.

  • Oklahoma City police investigate pregnant fired DHS shelter worker

    BY NOLAN CLAY Staff Writer | Updated: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    Suzi Jane Neel, 30, of Moore, who is pregnant with twins, was fired by Oklahoma Department of Human Services in November and is now being investigated by Oklahoma City police on a possible illegal relationship with a teenage boy.

  • Reports on death of handicapped boy, 17, prompts investigation into parents

    BY JENNIFER PALMER Staff Writer | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    The Department of Human Services received nearly a dozen reports of potential child neglect in the years preceding the death of a 17-year-old boy with developmental disabilities in rural Woods County. Pneumonia and infected bed sores contributed to the death of 17-year-old Kalib Smart on April...

  • Tulsa mother of 12 charged with child neglect after 33 DHS referrals and investigations

    By ARIANNA PICKARD - Tulsa World | Updated: Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    A Tulsa woman with at least 33 prior DHS referrals and investigations has been arrested on allegations that she neglected her children and provided them with inadequate shelter. She and four of her children were found living in a home with no running water; feces and trash covering the floor;...

  • Plaintiffs in DHS foster-care lawsuit argue for court intervention now

    BY GINNIE GRAHAM - Tulsa World | Updated: Fri, Jun 5, 2015

    Adequate progress is not being made in improving Oklahoma’s foster-care system to reach the goals in the Pinnacle Plan agreement, so court intervention is needed to spur faster change, a recent letter claims. Plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit wrote to the monitors of the improvement...

  • Judge rules in favor of Oklahoma Department of Human Services in Serenity Deal wrongful-death lawsuit

    By Nolan Clay, Staff Writer | Published: Mon, Jun 1, 2015

    Grandparents and mother of Serenity Deal sued the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and two fired child welfare workers after the 5-year-old girl was murdered by her father in Oklahoma City in 2011.

  • Abused, neglected children handcuffed at state-run shelter in Oklahoma City

    By Nolan Clay, Staff Writer | Updated: Tue, May 26, 2015

    Oklahoma DHS replaced two armed off-duty law enforcement officers at Pauline E. Mayer Shelter after getting complaint. Children also were threatened with pepper spray and stun weapons. Oversight agency told DHS director that shelter staff reported “that they believed they were powerless in...

  • Child given wrong medicine at DHS shelter in OKC

    By Randy Ellis, Staff Writer | Updated: Tue, May 26, 2015

    A 6-year-old child was hospitalized Saturday after mistakenly being given another child’s medicine while at a state-operated shelter for abused and neglected children in Oklahoma City.

  • Oklahoma Child Death Review Board reports on leading causes of children's deaths

    BY JENNIFER PALMER, Staff Writer | Updated: Sun, May 3, 2015

    The leading causes of death among Oklahoma children are unsafe sleep practices and traffic fatalities—both preventable, according to the state Child Death Review Board.

  • Report: Oklahoma foster care plan seeing progress, but some areas falling behind

    BY GINNIE GRAHAM, Tulsa World | Published: Thu, Apr 30, 2015

    Monitors of Oklahoma’s foster care improvement plan said the state Department of Human Services has made a “good faith effort” in some areas and has not made adequate progress in others, according to a report released Wednesday. The Pinnacle Plan is the settlement agreement that began...

  • Oklahoma Supreme Court sets standards for DNR orders involving children in DHS care

    By Randy Ellis, Staff Writer | Published: Tue, Apr 21, 2015

    The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday established a firm standard on when a hospitalized child in state Department of Human Services care can be allowed to die. Justices decided a judge can authorize the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment only if there is clear and convincing evidence it is...

  • Grandfather of child abuse victim dies in prison in Lexington, Oklahoma

    FROM STAFF REPORTS | Updated: Sat, Apr 18, 2015

    Don Luke, a former newspaper editor in McAlester, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the death of his grandson, Ryan Luke, 2. Luke, 74, died of cancer Thursday at the Joseph Harp Correctional Center in Lexington.

  • Midwest City police find body of father accused in son's death

    FROM STAFF REPORTS | Updated: Fri, Apr 17, 2015

    A Midwest City father charged in the death of his son, Quinten Wood, killed himself Monday, police said.

  • CARE Center CEO talks about child abuse

    By Jaclyn Cosgrove, Staff Writer | Updated: Fri, Apr 17, 2015

    Stacy McNeiland, CARE Center CEO, is trying to raise awareness about child abuse, which she says is an epidemic in Oklahoma County, affecting one in three girls, and one in five boys.

  • Governor names Jari Askins special adviser on child welfare and Pinnacle Plan Implementation

    By Rick M. Green, Staff Writer | Updated: Thu, Apr 2, 2015

    Former Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Jari Askins was named Thursday as special adviser to the governor on child welfare and Pinnacle Plan implementation.

  • DHS admits mistakes found after foster mom murdered 2 -year-old girl placed in her care

    By Nolan Clay, Staff Writer | Updated: Mon, Mar 16, 2015

    A DHS supervisor failed to fully investigate the background of a Tahlequah woman before approving her as a foster mother. A little more than three months later, the foster mother murdered a 2-year-old girl placed in her care. DHS workers also twice failed to call the DHS child abuse and neglect...

  • Fired Oklahoma Department of Human Services worker charged with identity theft, computer crime

    By Nolan Clay, Staff Writer | Updated: Tue, Mar 3, 2015

    Brenda McAlister, 56, of Shawnee, was charged with two felony counts Monday in Pottawatomie County District Court. The former Oklahoma Department of Human Services worker is accused of using her DHS computer and a co-worker’s personal information to fraudulently apply for a student loan for her...

  • Oklahoma Watch: Child welfare reforms will be funded, legislators say

    By M. Scott Carter, Oklahoma Watch | Published: Mon, Mar 2, 2015

    Oklahoma Watch: Despite a budget hole of $611 million, a court-ordered reform of Oklahoma’s child welfare system will be funded for the 2016 fiscal year, the chairmen of the Legislature’s budget-writing committees said Monday.

  • DHS failed to investigate call about Oklahoma grandmother who dressed as witch

    By Nolan Clay, Staff Writer | Updated: Mon, Feb 23, 2015

    A girl’s mother called the Oklahoma Department of Human Services hotline last June after finding cellphone video of a woman who dressed as a witch to discipline the child. DHS officials say the child welfare specialist acted appropriately in declining to investigate because the caller did not say...

  • 3 facts you should know about Oklahoma babies born with drugs or alcohol in their system

    Richard Hall | Published: Fri, Jan 30, 2015

    Nearly 400 Oklahoma babies born in 2014 were born addicted to drugs or alcohol. Here are 3 quick facts you should know about the issue.

  • Former Oklahoma Department of Human Services child welfare supervisor on probation for altering computer records after boy's death

    BY NOLAN CLAY, Staff Writer | Updated: Wed, Dec 31, 2014

    Former DHS child welfare supervisor Paul Kim Myers, 58, of Edmond, accepted plea deal that makes him a convicted felon to avoid possibility of prison.

  • DHS worker reported smelling marijuana at home of foster parents

    By Jennifer Palmer, Staff Writer | Updated: Mon, Nov 24, 2014

    The Oklahoma Department of Human Services failed to remove foster children from a home despite a worker having reported smelling marijuana in the home during a visit, a report states. A 3-year-old boy, Andrew Prior, later died of suspected child abuse.

  • Recommendations to Oklahoma DHS are sent out

    Published: Mon, Nov 17, 2014

    TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Department of Human Services must review plans to develop new foster homes, prepare weekly caseload reports and develop a remediation plan to reduce a Child Protective Services backlog. Those are among the improvements ordered by monitors supervising Oklahoma’s...

  • If you're calling the DHS hotline to report child abuse, prepare to wait

    BY RANDY ELLIS, Staff Writer | Published: Wed, Oct 15, 2014

    People calling an Oklahoma DHS hotline sometimes have to wait more than two hours to report allegations of child abuse, according to a new monitoring report released Wednesday. The Department of Human Services also has 1,254 child abuse and neglect investigations that are overdue — including 211...

  • Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Oklahoma group home operator

    By Randy Ellis, Staff Writer | Updated: Mon, Oct 13, 2014

    Mitchell Boles, 51, died from respiratory failure due to aspiration pneumonia less than two months after he was forced to move from the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley as part of the state’s plan to close that facility and a similar institution in Enid, said his sister, Shannon...

Oklahoman Editorials

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DHS Investigative Team

Nolan Clay

Sr. Reporter

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials, exposed shysters and resulted in reforms in such areas as day care oversight and workers' compensation court. He is a proud father and longtime fan of University of Oklahoma football. His wedding in 2001 was on the 50-yard line of OU's football field.

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 college presidents being sentenced to prison and a former chancellor being forced to resign. He has written about abuses of Oklahoma's workers' compensation system, corruption in the state's municipal bond industry, bid-rigging by county officials, self-dealing by state housing officials, misconduct involving state legislators and a variety of other topics. Ellis has won more than 80 state, regional and national awards for journalistic excellence. Prior to joining The Oklahoman in 1982, Ellis worked at Arkansas newspapers. He is a 1977 graduate of Kansas State University.

The Oklahoman's Watchdog team is a dedicated group of journalists here to expose corruption in Oklahoma. If you have any information about possible fraud, waste or abuse click on the
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