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  • Director Mary Poole said she did nothing wrong
    Director Mary Poole said she did nothing wrong

More trouble for disabilities agency

Commission fires director without stated cause

A troubled state agency appears to be in for more inner turmoil.
The SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs commission fired Director Mary Poole last week in a divided 5-1 vote.
But she denied she did anything wrong.
“I was not given an opportunity to discuss their concerns that led to this decision,” she said in a statement to the media.
No reason for her sudden removal was discussed in the public meeting.
Poole has not said why she was told she was fired.
“I opted to be released from employment rather than resign,” she said. 
“I do want to say that over my 30 years in this field I have always worked diligently for individuals with intellectual disabilities”
Commissioners also voted for a hiring freeze at DDSN which finances the Babcock Center in Lexington County.
After a series of investigative stories about theft, abuse and neglect of disabled clients at the Babcock Center, 3 employees sued the Chronicle.
2 of them dropped their lawsuits and the 3rd was dismissed in court.
In directing his verdict, Judge Edward Cottingham said the Chronicle had performed a needed public service in exposing wrongdoing at the center’s facilities.
Poole had held the position since 2018 at a salary of $171,404 a year. 
She was hired to replace Beverly Buscemi after the agency came under fire from lawmakers about allegations of abuse, neglect and other critical problems.
The commission named agency attorney Constance Holloway interim director.
The only commissioner to vote against firing Poole was Chairman Gary Lemel who said, “Mary Poole dedicated her life to serving people with disabilities. Under her leadership, DDSN made more progress toward providing that service than had occurred in decades.”
 

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