- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2010

BALTIMORE — Two employees have been fired and three have been disciplined following the death of a teacher at a state-run juvenile detention center in Prince George’s County, said Donald DeVore, Maryland’s juvenile justice secretary, on Thursday.

Some youth were not being supervised in line with center policies, such as not letting residents out of the sight of staff, the movement of residents and head counts of juveniles, Mr. DeVore said.

He said he was speaking generally about the center’s policies and would not specifically address what led to the teacher’s death because a criminal investigation is ongoing.

Mr. DeVore also dismissed a question about whether youths in the program were able to roam adjoining neighborhoods.

“I seriously doubt that,” he said.

The body of Hannah Wheeling, 65, was found Feb. 18 outside a campus building at the Cheltenham Youth Facility. Police have said she died of multiple blunt-force trauma injuries.

A youth involved in an outside-the-fence program at the facility has been transferred and admissions to the program have been suspended, Mr. DeVore said.

About 20 youths are enrolled in the Re-Direct program at the Murphy Cottage, a short-term residential treatment program that is separate from the secure detention facility at Cheltenham. Youths in the program are committed by a judge, and the department also screens youths before they are enrolled, Mr. DeVore said, adding the program is viewed as valuable by judges but the department was reviewing it and would decide whether or not to continue it.

Besides the firings of the two staff members, a high-level administrator has been demoted, a supervisor and a program manager have been suspended, and more disciplinary action has not been ruled out. Steps have also been taken to improve security, including the activation of a community alert system, enhanced lighting and intensified staffing levels, Mr. DeVore said.

Delegate Anthony O’Donnell, the minority leader in Maryland’s House of Delegates, has said Gov. Martin O’Malley should ask for Mr. DeVore’s resignation, but O’Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec has said the governor has confidence in the secretary.

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