The explanation given by the former director of SCOPE of Trumbull County for her retirement is questionable. So was the timing of her departure.
Janet Schweitzer's April 14 retirement letter is five days removed from when the Ohio Department of Aging made some very serious allegations against SCOPE, all dealing with the agency not following the rules for criminal background checks and credentialing for employees.
So serious, the agency's certification to receive Medicaid-related funding is at risk. SCOPE has conceded it failed to meet most of the requirements at a hearing Tuesday in Columbus and is now waiting on the state to issue a punishment. The agency isn't contesting one other allegation.
The man who took over for Schweitzer, Ralph Smith, testified at the hearing at the Ohio Department of Aging that Schweitzer was asked - ''encouraged''- by SCOPE's board to leave.
That is his understanding of what took place before he arrived. It doesn't gel with the explanation she cited ''family commitments.''
He attributed the agency's issues to a ''lack of diversification of authority.'' There was no one to do human resources or be a compliance officer and as evidence by ODA's findings, very little attention was given to those areas.
Smith soon discovered, ''everything came to one desk, mine,'' he said at the hearing.
He said SCOPE grew rapidly when Senior Levy money started being spent and with that came a lot more responsibility and regulation. SCOPE wasn't prepared for that.
Smith said he last spoke to Schweitzer on June 22.
''She called to ask how things were going, she had concerns,'' Smith said. He testified to the two spoke about the agency but nothing substantive about the state's allegations.
I wanted to speak with Schweitzer about this, but she did not respond to a message.
In her resignation letter, Schweitzer addressed the lack of funds for multiple positions, including a human resources staffer, saying the money SCOPE receives must be allocated toward certain government-set criteria and there was little that could be done to divert funds to administration.
Service is important, but equally important is the responsible administration of that service.
Background checks need to be done for prospective workers; they are, after all, dealing with people who are more vulnerable than most.
And in case a person is hired conditionally, the checks need done in a timely manner, within five days, according to Ohio law. The most outrageous instance of this not happening was with a woman who was not checked until six years after she was hired.
If someone has been convicted of a crime that should disqualify them from employment at SCOPE, don't hire that person. A man hired as a chore / homemaker worker should not have been hired because of an offense, according to the state.
In another instance, SCOPE didn't take into account what could have disqualified another worker when she was hired.
And, make sure it's all properly logged and kept.