NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services resigned Tuesday amid scrutiny of how her agency was handling cases of children who died after investigations of abuse and neglect.
Gov. Bill Haslam announced Kate O’Day’s resignation in a news release and wasn’t immediately available to comment.
“She was concerned that she had become more of a focus than the children the department serves,” Haslam said in the release.
The Republican governor last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.
DCS had been sued by The Tennessean, The Associated Press and 10 other news organizations to obtain case records of 151 children who died between January 2009 and July 2012 and had been the subject of state investigations of abuse or neglect.
Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled last month that DCS, which had claimed it was keeping the records closed to protect the children’s privacy, had to release hundreds of pages from four cases to the news organizations after identifying information was redacted. A decision on whether more records were to be released is pending.
DCS has been under federal court oversight for more than a decade over problems in Tennessee’s foster care system.
Less than two weeks ago DCS told a federal judge that it couldn’t accurately count how many children have died in its custody, saying its tracking system had missed nine deaths in 2011 and 2012. The revelation and increasing calls for DCS to improve its performance have threatened to derail more than 10 years of work to resolve a long-running lawsuit over the agency’s handling of foster care.
Thus far, officials have not been able to explain how DCS overlooked the nine deaths except to say that it was the result of human error.
Haslam named Commissioner Jim Henry, the head of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, to serve as interim commissioner of DCS.
O’Day had been commissioner since January 2011, when she was appointed by Haslam. Before that she was president and chief executive officer of Child & Family Tennessee in Knoxville.
Associated Press writer Erik Schelzig contributed to this story.
More Related Stories
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
- Record tornado devastates Oklahoma
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- Tornado reduces Oklahoma City suburb to rubble
- AP: Toll at least 37 dead in Okla. tornado
- Entire Midwest on tornado warning
- Oregon senator proposes appeal to Monsanto Protection Act
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Beltway scandal machine breaks, knows nothing about America
- Gitmo hunger striker launches Twitter campaign
- "Hero" cop, honored by Obama, accused of double rape
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Pentagon adviser pushed Anthrax drug, which his firm produced
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- The new geography of poverty
- Promotion for NYPD cop who cost city $1.5m in settlements
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Chinese hackers resume attacks against U.S.
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11