I-Team: CPS Worker Fired After Boy's Death Wins Back Job

LAS VEGAS -- The Department of Family Services worker fired for his role in the death of 7-year-old Roderick "RJ" Arrington will get his job back.

Police say Arrington was beaten to death by his mother and stepfather last year. Clark County fired a child abuse hotline worker claiming he didn't respond properly to an abuse warning the day before Arrington died. The boy died with open cuts and scars all over his body.

The Child Protective Services hotline worker who took a teacher's call the day before Arrington died was accused of negligence by Clark County and fired, but an arbitrator has ruled that worker had no responsibility for RJ's death.

Home video of the 7-year-old shows a smiling and happy boy. In Sept. 2012, RJ left his home in Illinois to live with his mother in Las Vegas. Two months later, RJ was dead. He was allegedly beaten and shaken to death by his mother and stepfather.

George Roach, RJ's grandfather, interviewed with 8 News NOW in Feb. 2013 and questioned why  his grandson wasn't helped.

"You've got a kid whose 7-years-old who's crying out for his life and he tells somebody and you don't respond, what kind of system do we have?"

The I-Team learned that a neighbor reported abuse to school officials on Nov. 28, 2012. Documents obtained by the I-Team show RJ told school employees about being beaten with a television cord, a broom handle, a belt, and a spatula. The school passed the word on to Child Protective Services, but the CPS worker made RJ's case a priority 2.

A priority 2 means a response must happen within 24 hours. A priority 1 would have meant a CPS worker interviewing RJ within two hours. RJ was allegedly beaten to death 12 hours after the hotline call.

Clark County fired hotline worker Jadon Davis after RJ's death, but a new arbitration ruling clears Davis. He spoke to the I-Team on the phone from Oregon.

"It feels to me that numerous agencies failed this child. Not just CPS, but the school district. There was, unfortunately, plenty of blame to go around," Jadon Davis, a former CPS hotline employee.

The arbitrator ruled Davis followed CPS's policy to the letter when it came to prioritizing cases. The arbitrator also found the county's claims that RJ's life would have been saved with a priority 1 response was a "compassionate but merely hopeful guess."

"If I knew what was going to happen, regardless of what the policy says, I would have willingly violated the policy to make sure this wasn't the end result," Davis said.

The arbitrator awarded Davis his job back with back pay. Arrington's father wants an apology from Child Protective Services.

"Just tell us sorry we made a mistake so we can move on," He said.

The I-Team has contacted Clark County and Child Protective Services for comment on the arbitrator's decision.

"I am greatly disheartened by this decision," said DFS Director Lisa Ruiz-Lee. "Not only did this finding disregard our decision making, it also returned the employee to us with no disciplinary action in place. As an agency, we are responsible for protecting our community's most vulnerable population. Our department policies must be followed to help us do exactly that."

Dina and Markiece Palmer, his mother and stepfather, will go to trial in December. Both  are charged with murder and multiple counts of child abuse and neglect. 

 

 

 

 


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