D.C. human resources officials are investigating whether the nominee to lead the District’s troubled juvenile justice agency tailored a key job posting to fit the background of someone he had known socially for 10 years.
The decision to reopen the case postponed a D.C. Council oversight committee’s vote scheduled for Thursday on Neil A. Stanley, who was tapped by Mayor Vincent C. Gray to lead the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS).
Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Human Services, has voiced concern about claims that Mr. Stanley removed juvenile justice requirements from a job description for superintendent of the agency’s New Beginnings Youth Development Center in Laurel.
Mr. Graham has said the editing between January and a reposting in March appeared to make way for Capt. Steven Baynes, who had a successful U.S. Coast Guard career but no discernible experience in juvenile justice.
Mr. Stanley testified that he knew Capt. Baynes “through friends” and saw him as a qualified person to bring true leadership to the troubled facility.
At a recent hearing, Mr. Stanley said job descriptions are updated routinely, but he would look into the matter.
Mr. Stanley’s chief of staff could not be reached Thursday for comment.
A memo circulated Thursday said, in part, “The investigation of the role, if any, of Acting Director Stanley is ongoing and is not complete” and that “results are expected next week.”
Mr. Graham said he did not feel comfortable moving forward on Mr. Stanley’s confirmation “until we’ve had this outstanding issue dealt with.”
Mr. Graham noted that a full legislative session is scheduled for July 12, two days before the deadline for council approval of a nomination before it takes effect automatically.
“We’re OK,” Mr. Graham said.
Earlier Thursday, the American Federation of Government Employees unit that represents DYRS employees issued a statement opposing the nomination.
“AFGE is on the record in opposing the confirmation of Neil A. Stanley as Director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services,” union officials said. “Primary among the reasons is that he lacks the required experience and qualifications in the field of juvenile justice to move this troubled Department forward.”
Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat, openly opposed Mr. Stanley at a June 1 confirmation hearing — citing his lack of relevant experience — before stating the next day that the nomination was “still in play.”
Mr. Stanley served as general counsel for DYRS before Mr. Gray selected him as acting director.
He benefited from “impactful” support at his most recent confirmation hearing, despite the controversial hiring at New Beginnings, Mr. Graham said.
The facility, which sits on 30 acres in Anne Arundel County, is the centerpiece of the District’s most recent efforts at juvenile justice reform. Described as “the anti-prison,” the $46 million facility offers high-risk offenders an intensive nine- to 12-month program of counseling, education and job training. But the center has space for just 60 of the roughly 1,100 DYRS wards and has been criticized since it opened as being inadequate for the agency’s needs.