support one of the good guys

The most famous quote attributed to Edmund Burke is, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.  We have a good man just down the road, in Richland County, who has chosen to make himself very unpopular by confronting those, who were commissioned to protect their county’s children, when they fell asleep at their posts.   Because he has exposed their numerous failures to protect, Judge Ron Spon is being threatened with the loss of his job (see post).   Lets give this fair and well respected Judge our support.  He truly is one of the good guys.

The following article was just published in The Mansfield News Journal.

MANSFIELD — A 13-year-old boy will be placed in a therapeutic foster home as ordered by Richland County Juvenile Court Judge Ron Spon. But not without some contention between the judge and Children Services.

Spon ordered Children Services Executive Director Randy Parker to appear in court Tuesday to answer whether the agency complied with his prior orders, then proceeded to grill Parker on the witness stand for 40 minutes.

At issue was the placement of a teen with developmental and behavioral issues. He had been in detention for 23 days. Spon wanted him placed somewhere with no sex offenders or children younger than 16.

Spon chose a home in Richland County operated by the Village Network and ordered the placement be made by last Friday, but Children Services employees said they had found a therapeutic foster home placement for the 13-year-old through a different, out-of-county service provider.

The judge said he reviewed the agency’s selection and found at least one sex offender was living in that home.

“I candidly was shocked,” Spon said. “How was it appropriate to be placed in a therapeutic foster home with any sex offenders?”

The judge asked if Parker would want his own child to be placed with sex offenders.

“I don’t want to answer any questions about my children,” Parker replied. “I refuse to answer that.”

Parker said he objected to the home ordered by Spon because the foster mother is friends with the boy’s parents, which he saw as a negative and a possible confusion of roles. Previously, the agency had recommended placement in an institutional residential treatment facility in Ironton in southern Ohio. Parker said he was worried about threats the boy had made.

“I have very serious concerns regarding the child’s behavior,” Parker said. “This child needed to be with a professional staff in an institutional setting for a 30-day period of observation.”

The judge countered by pointing out a counselor did not find the boy’s threats credible. During questioning, Spon also expressed frustration about contacting Parker.

“Why does the court need to order your presence?” the judge asked. “The court endeavors a call but never gets a response. One of the calls was a personal call from me to you.”

Parker said he sometimes is advised to turn calls over to attorneys.

As the hearing drew to a close, Spon said he wanted more cooperation from the agency.

“It’s the issue with full compliance with order and processes that got us to this point,” he said.

Children Services attorney Edith Gilliland tried unsuccessfully several times to address the judge, who threatened to hold her in contempt.

“If you speak one more word, you’re going to end up in jail or with a fine,” Spon said.

Before leaving the stand, Parker said the agency would comply with the judge’s order. Prior to testimony, Gilliland asked Spon to close the hearing to the media.

“I don’t know how this case is of any public interest,” she said, adding the boy’s confidentiality was another concern.

Jeff Stiffler, the attorney for the boy’s mother, and guardian ad litem Sheryl Groff said they did not object to a reporter being there. Spon agreed.

“The presumption is the media has access unless the court finds it would not be in the best interests of the child,” he said. “Let the public examine what we do.”

mcaudill@nncogannett.com
419-521-7219

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One thought on “support one of the good guys

  1. Ohio Administrative Code 5101:2-42-05 REQUIRES that placement of any youth in the care and temporary custody of a child welfare agency to be least restrictive and most home-like setting, (including other relatives and friends of the family, if appropriate), in close proximity to the family, and meets the clinically assessed needs of the youth. Placement with a therapeutic foster parent that is a friend of the mother, in Richland county, follows the law, while placement in an out of county therapeutic foster home or, worse yet, an institutional setting in the other end of the state does not. While the administrative code carries few criminal penalties,this kind of behavior has been known in past years to result in loss of federal funding for placements. Richland county is not in the financial setting to take such risks.

    This is over and above the possible emotional and mental damage that is done by leaving this teen in the detention center while the adults argue. Judge Spon’s very specific order of no other children under 16 and no sex offenders seems to reflect a tailored placement for this youth that meets his needs.

    The stated goal is to investigate reports of abuse, neglect, and dependency and to provide and coordinate services for those children and families who are struggling with these issues. When placement is needed, it is truly sad that politics seem to play such a large role in Richland county.

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