The Look in Brief
GOP lawmaker: TBI is investigating current and former DCS employees
Screen grab of Commissioner Margie Quin of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services addressing the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, Jan.30. Department of Finance and Administration Dave Thurman and DCS Chief of Staff Andy Verenski are seated to her right.
A Republican lawmaker said during a public hearing this week that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is probing the conduct of current and former employees of the Department of Children’s Services – an investigation a TBI spokesperson later said she could neither confirm nor deny.
“I’ve been made aware of a specific instance where the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has gotten involved in an internal investigation of DCS employees and former DCS employees,” Rep. David Hawk, R-Greenville said Monday during the legislative Finance, Ways, and Means Committee.
The hearing was to review an emergency request for funding from the agency, which has been under fire for more than a year over its inability to adequately care for the abused or neglected children that come into state custody.
The committee’s chair, Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain, prevented Hawk from asking additional questions, noting the hearing was confined to the emergency budgetary request.
A TBI spokesperson, in response to questions about Hawk’s public statements, said the agency was taking the “rare” step of neither confirming nor denying the existence of any investigation.
“While we appreciate and respect the public interest in matters such as this, the integrity of TBI’s investigative process is of the highest importance.” said Leslie Earhart, a TBI spokesperson.
“In certain, rare instances, it is our agency’s position that confirming or denying the existence of a TBI investigation could potentially limit our capacity to fully gather any and all relevant evidence and interview potential witnesses, to the detriment of the potential outcome of any investigation,” she said.
“Our agency will fully review any information and evidence presented to us in accordance with state law. These reviews may or may not result in formal TBI investigations. For these reasons, and to preserve the overall integrity of our agency’s work, we are not able to provide information about our involvement in this matter,” the remainder of Earhart’s emailed statement said.
During Monday’s legislative hearing, Hawk queried DCS Commissioner Margi Nichols about whether any of the supplemental budget funding sought would be used in service of a TBI probe.
“Are any of these supplemental dollars going toward any TBI investigation or can we talk about that in two weeks?” when the committee reconvenes, he asked Quin.
Quin said only that none of the funding requests, to her knowledge, would be used for any TBI or DCS internal investigation.
A DCS spokesperson referred questions by a reporter about the existence of any investigation to the TBI. Hawk did not return a message left with his legislative office after the hearing.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.