PHILADELPHIA Seven city social service administrators were suspended Monday, exactly two years after the emaciated, maggot-infested body of a 14-year-old girl with cerebral palsy was found in the squalid home of her mother, who has been charged with murder.
The suspensions came after of a grand jury report said the administrators failed to supervise derelict employees and, in some cases, falsified paperwork to cover up the neglect that led to the death of Danieal Kelly.
Just days ago, two other department workers were among nine people charged in the death of the disabled teen, who died of starvation and infection in 2006 while under the Department of Human Services' supervision.
In announcing the discipline at a news conference Monday, Mayor Michael Nutter choked up while noting his own daughter is just a year younger than Danieal was when she died.
"I am fully, thoroughly and completely pissed off," the normally reserved Nutter said angrily. If any city employee neglected his child the way Danieal was, he added, "I would kick their a-- myself."
The grand jury didn't recommend charges against the seven administrators, but it did conclude that any one of them "would have prevented Danieal's appalling death by merely doing their jobs as spelled out in the policy manual."
"The fact that so many workers failed Danieal, however, speaks to a larger problem than some profoundly negligent DHS employees: it reveals an agency that is broken," the report said.
One of the now-suspended employees was even promoted to head the agency committee that reviews child fatalities.
"We're establishing a new culture of accountability," said Nutter, who was out of the state when the 258-page grand jury report was released last week. "There's not a shadow of doubt in my mind that this department will turn around."
He cited some policy changes the agency has recently implemented, although the report made a point of saying the department's procedures seemed sufficient: "The problem wasn't the rulebook; it was the players," it said.
Nine people have been charged in Danieal's death, including her parents, three family friends, two private employees and two city social workers. The city employees, who face charges of child endangerment, were suspended last week and face disciplinary hearings this week that may result in their dismissals.
The city's assistant health commissioner, Carmen Paris, resigned Friday because of accusations in the report that she interfered in the investigation of the girl's death.