Judge removes custody of boy from Montgomery County Children’s Services
“I share your concern about several of the decisions regarding the placement of the child … in Highland County,” Heck wrote to the Highland County District Attorney in a letter obtained by the Dayton Daily News.
“I have already personally spoken with the Director of Children’s Services for Montgomery County about my / our concerns about the placement, as well as the incident with the Highland County school,” Heck wrote. “I further asked my staff to educate themselves and recommend changes to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future.”
Montgomery County took custody of the child in 2018 after he was found living with his mother in unacceptable conditions in Dayton and his mother tested positive for drugs. Her father is deceased. Montgomery County has placed the boy with his mother’s cousin in the village of Sardinia, County Highland, according to juvenile court records.
The Dayton Daily News does not identify the Sardinian woman to protect children’s privacy.
Highland County Report
On September 27, 2021, one of the Sardinian woman’s children reported to Highland County that her mother was using drugs, that she was harboring a fugitive who also used drugs, and that the children were living in an addiction, according to court records.
Court records say Highland County removed the woman’s children but could not find the boy from Dayton. It was later found that he was living with the neighbor where Montgomery County had placed him. The Sardinian woman tested positive for the consumption of methamphetamine.
On October 7, the boy’s high school reported to Highland County that the woman had removed the Dayton boy from school, and the boy told school officials he was living with the woman again, according to court records.
Highland County contacted Montgomery County, and a supervisor here told Highland County they knew the boy had been taken out of school and the drug test was positive.
“Montgomery County’s interactions have been ‘different’ from Highland County’s, they are developing a ‘safety plan’ for (the boy) and … their agency plans to follow up (the woman) on October 8,” according to one October report. 7 complaint by Highland County Children Services alleging endangerment and neglect of children.
The record indicates that Montgomery County was considering adopting the boy to the woman.
Judge questions Montgomery County
Highland County Judge Kevin Greer granted emergency temporary custody to Highland County Children’s Services and ordered Montgomery County officials to appear in court the next day.
At that hearing, Kelcie Paxson, Adoption Manager for Montgomery County Children’s Services, said they first learned that the boy was living in an addiction when they visited on September 28 after the abduction of the woman’s other children, according to hearing coverage by Highland County Press.
Paxson said he made the decision to place the child with a neighbor, the newspaper reported. Paxson said she accepted the woman who picked up the boy from school and the woman took him directly to the neighbor’s house.
Greer questioned the agency’s decision to allow the woman to pick up the child from school after testing positive for drugs and abducting her biological children.
“My experience is that people who use methamphetamine cannot take care of themselves, let alone a child. It’s quite disturbing to me that with your education, training, and experience, you were allowing someone who uses methamphetamine to carry a child. It seemed to me that it was more a matter of convenience, ”said Greer, according to the Highland County Press. “It doesn’t work that way in Highland County. “
“We now know,” Montgomery County supervisors reportedly responded.
“That shouldn’t be the case in any county,” Greer retorted, according to the newspaper. “We don’t let people who have recently tested positive for methamphetamine pick up a child from school. “
Judge issues custody order
Greer ordered the child to remain in Highland County temporary custody until a final decision can be made, court records show.
“This child has been endangered far too long and far too many times,” said Greer, according to Highland County Press. “To allow someone you know, from your own testimony, had recently used methamphetamine to remove a child from school is really beyond my understanding. “
Before the case went to trial in December, Heck wrote the letter on November 24 promising to review the case and agreeing to permanently transfer the child’s case to Highland County.
An official in Heck’s office said this week that the review is underway and recommendations to improve practices are being drafted.
The complaint against Montgomery County was dismissed and the child’s placement moved to Highland County on December 6.
the Highland County Press Reports that Montgomery County Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the Civil Division, Ward Barrentine, attended a hearing on December 2 and assured the judge his concerns were taken seriously.
“We have worked and continue to work with children’s services to reform our practices”, Barrentine would have said. “Any indication that a case has caused potential harm to a child causes our boss to take a close look at what we’re doing.
“We will continue to work with our children’s services not only on this case, but on any case that comes to our attention. “
The Dayton Daily News will continue to follow this case and report on the findings of the local prosecutor’s review.