• Senate President, Northbridge school superintendent critical of DCF


    NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) - The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families faced more criticism, this time from the Massachusetts Senate President and Northbridge superintendent of schools.

    The child welfare agency has come under fire for alleged negligence in the disappearance of a 5-year-old Fitchburg boy, Jeremiah Oliver, who is presumed dead. Three workers at the agency's Leominster office were fired.

    Northbridge Superintendent Nancy Spitulnik sent a letter to DCF Commissioner Olga Roche last month highlighting what she sees as problems at the agency's Whitinsville office.

    She says among her concerns is that workers refused to accept alleged abuse or neglect filings when a student had missed more than 75 days of school and regularly closed cases because parents refused to cooperate.

    President of the Massachusetts Senate Therese Murray sent a letter to Roche on Tuesday, voicing concerns about the DCF's "ability to achieve its charge of protecting children from child abuse and neglect."

    Murray touched upon both the mishandling of the case of Jeremiah Oliver, and the letter sent by the Northbridge superintendent.

    The issues brought up by the superintendent included the "very alarming allegation" that it took multiple child abuse reports to be filed over a year before a second grader was removed from the home for sexual abuse.

    "It is my sincere hope that the department will perform a thorough review of the Whitinsville office's handling of the cases outlined by the superintendent," the letter read.

    Roche met with superintendent Spitulnik, school principals and counselors Tuesday to discuss the concerns brought up in the letter.

    After the meeting Spitulnik sent a follow-up letter to Roche, stating that both sides "developed a strong plan for moving forward and working together," which includes ongoing roundtable strategy discussions with DCF and school staff.

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