Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services Donald DeVore announced Thursday that he is stepping down in order to pursue “an opportunity in another state.”
DeVore, who has presided over the troubled agency since March 2007 after serving in the same capacity in Connecticut, declined through a spokesman to speak to the Capital News Service.
“It was truly a pleasure to serve as Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services,” DeVore said in a statement announcing his resignation. “A new job opportunity presented itself and I felt it was the right time to pursue it. I am going to miss all of the people at DJS with whom I had great working relationships and friendships.”
Shaun Adamec, a spokesman for Gov. Martin O’Malley, would not comment on whether the governor had asked DeVore to step down. He said a national search is on for a replacement and that DeVore is expected stay on through the transition.
“I want to thank Don DeVore for his service, and wish him well in his future endeavors,” O’Malley said, in the statement from the Department of Juvenile Services announcing DeVore’s resignation. “Despite inheriting a long-troubled agency, important strides have been made in the last four years.”
Jay Cleary, a spokesman for the Department of Juvenile Services, said he believed it was DeVore’s decision to leave.
Though problems and inefficiencies plagued the department long before DeVore arrived, advocates say the agency is just as troubled as it was in 2007.
“There have been some major events over the past several years that I frankly don’t understand have not been considered issue enough for his departure before this,” said Shelley Tinney, executive director for the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth.
Such events include multiple escapes from the Charles H. Hickey School throughout the past three years, a mass escape in 2009 at the Victor Cullen Center, and the 2010 rape and murder of a teacher at Cheltenham Youth Facility.
Advocates also say the secretary fell short in improving conditions for female offenders in the system.
In December 2009, the Capital News Service reported on problems at the Thomas J.S. Waxter Children’s Center, the only state-run facility for both detained and high security female juvenile offenders. Since then, there has been legislation proposed to close the facility.
An audit report released in September outlined 14 findings of “significant deficiencies” in the Department of Juvenile Services, including failure to apply for an estimated $3 million in available Medicaid money and failure to follow purchase-of-care contract approval requirements.
Most recently, at a Wednesday Board of Public Works meeting, DeVore requested $171 million in retroactive contract approvals, which the board approved with a 2-1 vote.
– By Capital News Service’s Alexis Gutter.