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DHHS Secretary launches investigation at N.C. School for the Deaf in Morganton

Release Date: July 16, 2010
Contact: Renee McCoy, 919-733-9190

RALEIGH – Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler has launched an investigation into a series of allegations including abuse and neglect of students at the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton.

DHHS Deputy Secretary Maria Spaulding will lead the investigation and assemble a team to include representatives from the human rights community and human resources to conduct a thorough probe covering several years of alleged misconduct. As the investigation is under way, the director of the school, Janet McDaniel, was suspended on Friday, July 16.

The allegations were brought to the attention of DHHS leadership by the advocacy group Disability Rights NC. According to DHHS policy, any reports or allegations of abuse to students at the school should be reported immediately to the Department of Social Services and DHHS. The allegations to be investigated include whether that policy was followed.

“The findings of Disability Rights NC are significant enough to warrant a full investigation into the actions of the school’s top administrator and staff,” Cansler said. “Our zero tolerance policy is designed to ensure the protection of our children. Based on our early findings, some staff may not have acted in the best interests of our children. We take these reports seriously and we are acting on them.”

Dr. Esther Brassell, who oversees student support services, will take over the duties of director at the school during the investigation.

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