published Friday, January 11th, 2013

House Democrats request probe at Children's Services

NASHVILLE — House Democrats are asking the Republican legislative leaders, Speaker Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, to investigate why the Department of Children's Services refuses to release records relating to abuses and deaths of children in its care.

"The mission of the Department of Children's Services is too important for them to operate in secrecy," said Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner. "It is well past time that we have a full accounting of problems within the agency, so we can determine how best to move forward and fix them."

Turner sent a copy of the request to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

News organizations including the Chattanooga Times Free Press have sued the department for denying requests to access files on 151 children who have died since 2009. The agency had investigated the children and confirmed neglect or abuse in 47 cases. A Davidson County judge is sorting through the files and will rule later on what, if any, information must be made public.

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