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Ex-staffer for DYRS settles suit for $130K

Sought job given to chief’s acquaintance

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The District's juvenile justice agency agreed to pay about $130,000 to a disgruntled former employee who sued the city after he was passed over for the top job at a D.C. facility in Laurel that houses young offenders, according to papers from the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.

The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services did not admit wrongdoing in the settlement with Namon Reid III, who was fired as interim superintendent of New Beginnings Youth Development Center in the wake of a violent escape at the facility in April.

Mr. Reid says he was terminated to make way for Capt. Steven Baynes, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who had no discernible juvenile justice experience yet knew DYRS director Neil A. Stanley through social contacts.

Before filing the lawsuit, he made his accusations publicly at oversight hearings before the D.C. Council's Committee on Human Services in hopes of gaining consideration for the position.

The settlement amount is equal to about 17 months of pay for Mr. Reid and $8,769 in annual leave, $5,846 in sick leave and $876 in retirement pay. The city also agreed to pay $16,000 in attorney's fees.

Under the settlement, the agency agreed to convert Mr. Reid's "termination" to a "resignation." He is prohibited from seeking or accepting employment at the agency for three years and cannot disparage DYRS or comment on the settlement.

His attorney, J. Michael Hannon, refused to comment to The Washington Times when it reported last month that a settlement had been reached.

The settlement papers, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, were signed by Mr. Stanley, Mr. Reid and Mr. Hannon in late July and early August.

DYRS directed requests for comment on the settlement to the Attorney General's Office and the D.C. Department of Human Resources; however, the settlement also prohibits those parties from talking about it.

The issues raised by Mr. Reid prompted a human resources investigation and almost derailed Mr. Stanley's confirmation as Mayor Vincent C. Gray's pick to lead the agency, which has faced questions about its ability to rehabilitate and secure youths at its facilities and how closely it monitors wards after their release.

The family of Neil Godleski - a 31-year-old Catholic University student who was fatally shot by a DYRS ward who escaped from a group home in 2010 - sued DYRS last week on claims it "incompetently supervised the juveniles under their control."

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Human Services Committee, has said he is troubled by the number of escapes and abscondences from DYRS supervision and the potential consequences in the community.

Over the summer, Mr. Reid alleged that Mr. Stanley flouted an order from D.C. Department of Human Resources to convene a panel that would rate each candidate for the job.

He also accused Mr. Stanley of editing a job posting to eliminate juvenile justice experience from the requirements.

Mr. Graham and council member Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, voted against Mr. Stanley's confirmation, citing his lack of experience and ongoing problems at the agency. However, Mr. Stanley was automatically confirmed when the full council failed to vote on his confirmation before their summer recess.

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