A report released on Monday by Michael Gennaco and the LA County Office of Independent Review, found that Los Angeles County officials have, in multiple cases, ignored state law that requires them to publicly disclose child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect.
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the LA Times that dozens of such cases may be involved.
Garrett Therolf of the LA Times has the full story.
Here’s a clip.
….Yaroslavsky said auditors uncovered the discrepancy [between the number of deaths that occurred, and the number reported] when they reviewed the case of Jorge Tarin, an 11-year-old Montebello boy who hanged himself with a jump rope in June. In confidential court filings, social workers declared his death to be the result of abuse or neglect, but when it came time to report abuse or neglect deaths to the public, the department left his case off the list.
In the audit, Michael Gennaco, chief attorney for the Office of Independent Review, noted a dramatic change last year in the amount of information released by the department, with disclosure in only four of 18 cases. Gennaco said the pattern has extended into 2010. The Times has been denied in repeated public records requests for information.
A 2007 state law requires release of numerous records in such cases unless doing so would jeopardize a criminal investigation. Gennaco found that child welfare officials were asking law enforcement agencies to object to the release of documents before investigators had the chance to review the case files. The effect has been blanket objections to disclosure that resulted in “a virtual paralysis of the statute’s intent.”