Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 12:35 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2022 at 6:21 PM CST
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A resignation letter obtained by WAFB reveals new details as the head of the Department of Children and Family Services, Marketa Garner Walters, takes leave from her post less than a week after Scottie Hunter and the WAFB I-TEAM exposed the agency’s latest misstep which allowed 1-year-old Jarhei Paul to die on their watch October 31, 2022.
Despite her saying just days ago that she was not going anywhere, Walters handed in a letter to Governor John Bel Edwards Thursday, Nov. 10 announcing she will take personal leave from her position until she retires at the end of the year. Her decision comes after three recent mistakes at the agency that have thrust DCFS into the spotlight and less than 24 hours after the governor blasted the agency’s work surrounding this most recent child’s death.
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it. That was an absolute failure. There was obviously a failure to implement faithfully the new policies and procedures that were announced. We had failures of supervisors because it was a supervisor who was actually assigned this particular case, so all of this troubles me greatly,” said Governor John Bel Edwards.
Back in August the agency announced policy changes and a top-down investigation after another child, 2-year-old Mitchell Robinson, III, died following a third overdose. This was despite multiple warnings—including from a doctor—that the child was in danger. Each time, DCFS choose not to act. Another child was put in danger and allowed to be raped, allegedly while in the care of Michael Hadden. DCFS was following up on separate reports of sexual abuse involving the caretaker but at some point during the investigation, the teen was placed back into Hadden’s care.
Deputy Secretary Terri Ricks will take over the agency as the governor searches for a permanent replacement.
The following is a release from the governor’s office following the former secretary’s resignation.