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July 28, 2012 permalink
Gastonia North Carolina continues with its run of social worker DWI cases. This time Derrick Hensley was caught driving drunk. He is continuing to drive a government vehicle, even with children as passengers, while charges are pending.
Social Services worker charged with DWI allowed to drive government car
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. —
Eyewitness News has learned a Gaston County Social Services worker recently charged with DWI is still allowed to drive a government car and have children as passengers.
It's the department's third employee arrested on DWI charges in the last nine months.
On a quiet Gastonia street in early July, Child Protective Services worker Derrick Hensley was arrested for DWI and later released on bond.
"It's dangerous, you know. He could have hurt somebody driving drunk," said Gastonia resident William Martin.
So far, Hensley has not been disciplined. He's still allowed to drive a county car.
Eyewitness News asked Gaston County DSS Director Keith Moon if a DWI arrest should now result in an automatic punishment, and he said no.
"Each individual situation is just that. It's an individual situation," Moon said. "Everything depends on what extenuating circumstances existed."
Social worker Yvette Smithen was arrested in early October and fired within three days.
Gastonia police said she had her 4-year-old son in the back seat and she blew a 0.22 --- nearly three times the legal limit.
Social worker Amanda Carrigan was also arrested in October and fired in early November.
Witnesses said she was weaving in and out of traffic on a busy road and rear-ended an SUV.
"They should know not to drink and drive," Martin said.
Hensley was arrested on July 2 in his personal car. He was off duty and he reported the arrest to his supervisor.
"A DWI would, in and of itself, would probably not be cause for disciplinary action," said Moon said there's no official policy for handling DWI arrests.
Hensley's family told Eyewitness News they didn't want to talk about the arrest.
Eyewitness News doesn't know yet what led police to pull Hensley over because the county courthouse was closed when a news crew arrived.
But a reporter will pull those files Monday morning.
Hensley will appear in court in early September for the DWI charge.
Addendum: Here is an example of how well this child protection agency functions.
My grandson was legally kidnapped on august 9th 2012 by DSS of Gastonia, NC.
An anonymous submission.
My grandson was legally kidnapped on august 9th 2012 by DSS of Gastonia, NC. I've heard so many diffirent lies from these people I really don't know the reason. But, they told me that it was because of his behavior. There not telling anybody that the social worker new back in May that he was diagnosed with ADHD and did not inform me about it. I had to bring it up in july that I was going to have him checked for it and then she told me after I took him to the doctor and told her that he was diagnosed with it and then she said she knew that back in may.
Also, I heard that the thearapist that I was taking him to had only seen him and me four about an hour said that he was disassociating from himself because he likes to pretend he is spiderman. Then he told them that my mental state was affecting him. I was upset because his mother and his other grandparents had abused him on there visits. He is only four years old and I thought at that age all kids liked to pretend to be superheros. But, I reported the abuse and thats when they lied to me and asked me to come up there for a meeting about their visits and when I got there they put him in another room and told me that he was'nt going back home with me that he was going to a level II foster home.
They will not let me see him or even talk to him and wont tell me who or where he is. It feels like he has been kidnapped and I can't find him. It is the worst thing i have ever been through in my life. I don't know what to do. But I am having a rally 8-17-12 at the gastonia dss.
If anybody has any answers please let me know.
Source: Legally Kidnapped
Addendum: Protestors take to the streets against this agency.
Protestors say DSS kidnapped their kids
Mary and John Shinagis got fed up with the system, so Friday they took it to the street.
The Bessemer City couple packed up their camping chairs, loaded up the cooler with sodas, constructed some protest signs and headed to the Gaston County Department of Social Services.
The couple said they couldn’t get anyone to listen when they made phone calls, so waving signs and getting signatures on a petition seemed the next logical step.
The Shinagises say that local social workers wrongfully took away their 4-year-old grandson who they’d been raising for more than a year.
“It’s like he’s been kidnapped, and I can’t find him,” said Mary Shinagis.
According to the Shinagises, they rescued their grandson from an abusive home. While caring for the boy, they enrolled him in a private preschool, took him to therapy each week and took him for visits with his mother, father and other set of grandparents, the Shinagises said.
But while the boy was visiting relatives, the Shinagises said he was physically abused. The couple reported the abuse twice in two weeks, they said Friday from the sidewalk outside of DSS.
Mary Shinagis was told to come to see a social worker on Aug. 9, she said. That’s the last time she saw her grandson.
According to Mary Shinagis, a social worker took her to one room and her grandson to another. She said she was then informed the boy wouldn’t be leaving with her.
The Shinagises are upset. They’re angry. They want answers. They say they’re not getting them.
They don’t trust foster homes, not when they think their grandson could be better cared for with them, or with his aunts and uncles.
“They’ve got to be stopped. They’re taking kids out of good homes and putting them in bad homes,” John Shinagis said of social workers.
The couple held their signs high for a few hours Friday morning, waving at anyone who honked in approval as they passed. They carried with them a petition – to stop corruption at DSS and to bring their grandson home.
Joining the protest
Tonia Allen saw the demonstration Friday and decided to become a part of it.
The Gastonia woman said she had her three daughters taken away by DSS in 2009.
The girls, now 9, 8, and 7 years old, have been adopted. Allen said she was forced to give up her parental rights. She said a social worker threatened to take away her two sons if she didn’t give up the girls.
Allen admits that her life wasn’t perfect when her girls were taken away, but today she has a job, a nice house and a desire to see her daughters.
When Allen saw the Shinagises, she pulled out pictures of her daughter, taped them to a sign and joined the protest.
Some interested pedestrians stopped and talked to the protestors. A few signed the petition.
DSS bound by rules of secrecy
The Department of Social Services will not comment on specific cases it handles, whether they’re opened or closed.
Melanie Lowrance, program manager with DSS, issued a statement about the goals DSS tries to meet whenever a child is taken from a home:
“Our agency aims to ensure the safety and well-being of all children. The removal of a child from his or her home only occurs when the risk of harm to the child is so great that his or her safety cannot be assured in the home. Prior to removal, reasonable efforts are made to establish a safe environment within the family and prevent removal. If a child must be removed from their home, we strive to locate family members who are willing and able to provide care. When children are removed from the home, our social workers work with the family to improve the conditions in the home that led to our agency’s intervention.
“Our goal for all children is to achieve a safe, stable and permanent home that provides love, care and nurture.”
Mary Shinagis’ voice cracks when she talks about her grandson. Her husband called the boy his pride and joy.
The couple is hurting and said they’re afraid of what will happen to the young child in foster care. They feel they’ve been betrayed by the system for trying to do the right thing.
“All I want is to see him and to talk to him and make sure he’s OK,” said Mary Shinagis. “I know he thinks I left him.”
Source: Gaston Gazette