After the girl died, DHS suspended four employees involved in her case — a Lincoln County DHS child welfare worker and his supervisor, and a Pottawatomie County DHS child welfare worker and his supervisor.
The Lincoln County worker, Donald Wheeler, committed suicide. His supervisor, Wes Priest, quit. Pottawatomie County child welfare specialist Randy Lack and supervisor Jennifer Shawn eventually were fired.
The agency concluded Lack and Shawn failed to make full background checks of Serenity's father and failed to fully inform the judge overseeing Serenity's case. They have denied wrongdoing. Shawn has said they are being made “scapegoats for this.”
Both have appealed their terminations to the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission. The appeals are pending.
Their attorney, Pete Serrata, said both cooperated fully in the inquiry.
“We're hopeful that the agents will come to the truth of the matter regarding how the entirety of the system failed, beyond DHS,” Serrata said.
“The way the system's supposed to work is DHS does their job. It is supposed to go to the DA who does his job, who then takes it to the judge who is supposed to do his job,” he said.
“In this case, I think what you're going to find ... is that there were failures in all three sections.
“DHS isn't the end-all. If DHS makes a mistake, then it is supposed to be the DA to catch it. And, if the DA makes a mistake, the judge is supposed to be the final, ultimate authority as to what's supposed to happen.”