- Associated Press - Thursday, July 23, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Republican leader of the Connecticut Senate on Thursday called for the resignation of the Department of Children and Families commissioner in light of recent reports, including one highlighting problems at state juvenile detention facilities.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano of North Haven said Commissioner Joette Katz’s “autocratic leadership and misplaced priorities” have undermined her office and put children at risk.

“Her influence has prevented DCF from advancing and improving,” he said. “It’s time for her to step down.”

Fasano’s criticisms came a day after a state report was released saying boys and girls at the detention facilities run by DCF have been subjected to unlawful and repeated use of restraints and isolation. The monthslong investigation by child advocate Sarah Eagan’s office, sparked by whistleblower complaints, found what the report called urgent safety problems at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School for boys and the neighboring Pueblo Unit for girls in Middletown.

Mark Bergman, a spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, accused Fasano of firing off an “ill-informed, misguided attack” without a serious plan to fix the problems. Bergman credited DCF with making “real progress” under Katz’s leadership, pointing out how CJTS has never had fewer youth in the facility than right now.

“The problems outlined in Ms. Eagan’s report are serious, while the motivations behind Len’s latest missive are not,” Bergman said. “DCF is working in a collaborative fashion to address those problems.”

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