The Guilford County Board of Commissioners did not state why they went into closed session on Thursday, June 15, but it was a secret to no one why they went behind closed doors.
The subject of discussion was the giant Guilford County Division of Social Services scandal after North Carolina Health and Human Services investigators found wholesale neglect with the way the department was carrying out its duties protecting the children in its care and under its purview.
The deaths of three children in a Greensboro house fire – children under observation by the Division of Social Services – caused state officials to open an investigation into the Child Protective Services section of the division. The troubling findings there led to two other investigations, including one of DSS child placement operations.
The subsequent investigations revealed more alarming instances of social services workers frequently failing to carry out even the basic requirements called for in policy and law meant to keep children safe.
A May 16, 2023 letter from the state to the county citing a wide range of DSS violations became public earlier this week and it was obvious that was the topic of discussion in the closed session.
If one needed any further evidence, Guilford County DSS Director Sharon Barlow was present just outside the meeting room prior to the closed session. Usually, Barlow is sitting in the Commissioners Meeting Room on the Second Floor of the Old Guilford County Court House for the entire meeting, however, on this night, she didn’t enter the room.
Guilford County Attorney Andrea Leslie-Fite, who was announced as the new Guilford County attorney exactly one year before the June 15, 2023 meeting, is certainly earning her pay this year – which began with a giant contractual dispute the county has with Samet Corp. regarding a demolition and construction project costing over $20 million.
Just as in that case, the county commissioners are not saying anything in this case, even off the record.
The day before the June 15 meeting, Alston said he anticipated that he would make a statement. However, after the closed session, the nine commissioners came out of the room and voted unanimously to adjourn without saying anything regarding the matter.