Below is a letter sent Thursday to city employees from Walnut Creek Public Services Director Heather Ballenger who made the decision to reinstate four employees. The employees were placed on paid administrative leave during an internal investigation in mandated child abuse reporting.
I am writing to let you know that I am reinstating the four employees who were placed on administrative leave in late March, and they will be returning to work on Monday, June 3, following an internal investigation which examined staff response to allegations of inappropriate behavior by a temporary employee.
You may recall that City Manager Ken Nordhoff asked that I review the results of that investigation in regards to the four employees on leave.
I have reviewed the preliminary investigation report and the recommendations of the Municipal Resource Group, the consultant hired by the city to make recommendations based on the results of the investigation.
As a result, I find that the four employees, Scott Denison, Barry Gordon, Sally Rice and Kevin Safine, acted absolutely appropriately to protect minors by promptly terminating the worker involved and documenting the situation.
The investigation results also indicate that the employees learned of the allegations only after a law enforcement agency was aware of them and conducting its own investigation.
This has been a long and detailed investigation, but one that was necessary, given the seriousness of the underlying issue. We understand that as a city, we must continue to be diligent and ensure we are fulfilling our responsibilities to protect children.
To that end, we are finalizing a comprehensive, citywide policy on mandated reporter training.
Most of our programs that work with children have a long track record of providing mandated reporter training. We are re-examining our training procedures to make sure that all employees who need this training receive it.
The final results of the investigation may touch on issues that require further examination by the city. I am confident City Manager Ken Nordhoff and our City Council will take up these issues at the appropriate time and will keep staff informed as appropriate.
My task was to make a decision regarding the four employees, something I'm pleased to say is now done. These employees have shown extraordinary patience throughout a long and complicated process, and I know you will join me in welcoming them back.
I want to thank all city employees for your patience during this time and particularly want to extend appreciation to those who took on more duties over the past two months to support the needs of the organization.
-- Heather Ballenger
Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.