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Office of Children's Services v. E.T.

December 7, 2007

OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES, RESPONDENT,
v.
E.T., APPELLANT, AND
E.T., APPELLANT,
v.
CAMDEN COUNTY, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from the Final Decision of the Department of Human Services, Office of Children's Services and the Final Administrative Action of the New Jersey Merit System Board, Docket No. 2005-12.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 3, 2007

Before Judges Cuff, Lisa and Simonelli.

Appellant E.T. appeals from the June 19, 2006, Final Decision of respondent Department of Human Services Office of Children's Services (OCS) affirming the finding of an administrative law judge (ALJ) that E.T's name and the substantiated physical child abuse finding of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), Institutional Abuse Investigation Unit (IAIU), shall remain in the Central Registry of substantiated child abuse findings pursuant to N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(4)(b) and (6). E.T. also appeals from the August 11, 2006, Final Administrative Action of the Merit System Board (Board) affirming his removal from employment as a Juvenile Detention Officer (JDO) with the Camden County Youth Center (Youth Center).

On this appeal, E.T. raises the following arguments:

POINT I

THE DECISIONS OF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES AND THE MERIT SYSTEM BOARD ARE ARBITRARY, CAPRICIOUS AND UNREASONABLE AND THEREFORE MUST BE REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR A NEW HEARING AS THE AGENCIES ADOPTED THE DECISION OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE WHICH FOCUSED ON CREDIBILITY AND APPELLANT WHO APPEARED PRO SE WAS PRECLUDED FROM PRESENTING THE BEHAVIOR LOG AND MEDICAL DOCUMENTS OF HIS ACCUSER IN AN EFFORT TO ATTACK HIS ACCUSER'S CREDIBILITY.

POINT TWO

THE DECISIONS OF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES AND THE MERIT SYSTEM BOARD ARE ARBITRARY, CAPRICIOUS AND UNREASONABLE AND THEREFORE MUST BE REVERSED AND REMANDED FOR A NEW HEARING AS APPELLANT WAS NOT PROVIDED WITH THE FULL SECURITY MEASURE POLICY WHICH HE WAS ACCUSED OF VIOLATING IN DISCOVERY AND WAS ONLY PROVIDED WITH THE COMPLETE POLICY AFTER HE HAD EXAMINED THE RELEVANT WITNESS.

We affirm.

I.

The Youth Center hired E.T. on September 25, 2000. In connection with his employment, he took the "Defensive Tactics and Handcuffing" course, which trained him in basic handcuffing and defensive techniques for potentially confrontational situations with juvenile residents.

During E.T.'s employment, the IAIU investigated him six times on allegations of physically abusing juvenile residents by aggressively applying restraints. In five instances, the IAIU found E.T. applied a dangerous technique to subdue a minor. Four instances resulted in a finding of "not substantiated with concerns," meaning there was "some indication that a child was harmed or placed at risk of harm but does not indicate that the child is an abused or neglected child." N.J.A.C. 10:129-1.3 (amended 2005). As a result of these findings, however, E.T. had to be retrained for forty hours in the "Defensive Tactics and Handcuffing" course. This marked the first time a JDO had to be retrained in that course.

In addition, E.T.'s annual evaluations revealed he had "a tendency to get down to their level and intimidate residents. Egging them on in a confrontational manner," used discipline as a form of "punishment rather than corrective measures," and was verbally abusive.

On December 6, 2003, D.G. was a seventeen-year-old resident in the Youth Center, who had previously been placed on honors for his good behavior. Prior to this time, D.G. had never filed a grievance against a JDO and E.T. never had a problem with him.

On December 6, 2003, D.G. was involved in three incidents, the last of which is at issue here. The first incident occurred on the 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift and resulted in D.G. being voluntarily taken to isolation without injury. He returned to his unit at about 3:00 p.m. E.T. was not involved in this incident. The second incident involved D.G. acting in a disruptive manner because he ...


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