Labor union leaders are calling on Mayor Adrian Fenty to reinstate three Children and Family Service Agency social workers who were fired in the wake of the Banita Jacks case, in which the mummified bodies of her four young daughters were found in the family’s home.
The leaders, led by George Johnson, president of the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees, which represents the ousted workers, are calling for them to be paid some $300,000 collectively in back pay, and that all references to disciplinarian action contained in their personnel files be removed.
“It’s already been proven that they were wrongfully terminated and we want everything they’re entitled to, including full benefits and any other rights they would have been afforded,” he said.
Johnson is accusing Fenty of using the social works as scapegoats in an attempt to cover his administration’s own inadequacies. “When this first happened, we had already stated that it was a lot deeper and a lot more entailed than just these three workers,” Johnson continued. “If Fenty just wanted to blame anybody, there was enough blame that could go from one end of the city to the next – the school system was involved, the police department was involved and the list goes on.”
Mindy Good, CFSA spokeswoman, referred media inquiries to the mayor’s office, which did not respond to either phone or e-mail inquiries.
But Fenty got rid of the social workers last year after his administration was heavily criticized for mishandling concerns over the manner in which Jacks had been caring for her children while the family had been receiving assistance from the city.
The social workers were particularly criticized for not following up on the girls’ whereabouts after they repeatedly failed to show up for school. The girls ranged in ages from 5 to 17 and their badly decomposed bodies were discovered in the house in January 2008 by a federal marshal serving an eviction.
Jacks, who has since been convicted of killing the children and living with their bodies for months afterward, is currently serving a life sentence.