In Oklahoma DHS fight, father seeking 117,000 names

BY JAY F. MARKS Modified: January 15, 2009 at 12:20 pm •  Published: January 15, 2009
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An Oklahoma father is trying to overhaul the state Department of Human Services, but he will need a lot of help. Clarence W. Cooper II needs more than 117,000 signatures to have a chance at getting his plan in front of voters.

An eight-page petition was filed Wednesday with the Oklahoma secretary of state. Cooper has 90 days to gather the signatures.

Cooper, 32, who lost four children to state custody after what he called unfounded abuse allegations, wants a 50-member panel of citizens to review DHS decisions on child welfare matters.

The Oklahoma City resident suggests making DHS employees subject to criminal charges if children are coerced or manipulated into making false statements. He wants the creation of a 37-point definition for "best interests of the child.”

"We have a system that is capitalizing on the misery of our families and children,” Cooper said.

DHS officials did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Cooper said he will be circulating his petition at 5:30 p.m. today at Starbucks, 6430 Avondale Drive.

He also said he is looking for volunteers in every county to help gather the necessary signatures.

Cooper can be reached at 405-701-5824.