Hancock County

Hancock Youth Court shake-up — 3 officials resign, 2 new hires quit

Youth court staff turnover has reached a new height with three officials tendering their resignations and two newly hired employees quitting, county supervisors said Friday.

The resignations came from the youth court administrator, the youth drug court administrator and the youth court clerk.

Hancock County Youth Court Judge Elise Deano informed county supervisors of the staff losses during Tuesday’s regular board meeting, though she did not discuss specific reasons behind the resignations and turnovers, Supervisor Scotty Adam said.

“I have no idea why those people resigned,” Adam said, adding the board is actively trying to get more answers.

Both court administrators served as the judge’s second-in-command. It’s unclear what positions the new hires held, though they quit less than a month into the job, Board President Blaine LaFontaine said.

The Hancock County Youth Court is the judicial arm of the embattled Child Protective Services office, formerly known as DHS or Department of Human Services. Both CPS and the youth court were the focus of a recent Sun Herald investigation that uncovered audio recordings, court records and thousands of pages of documents related to allegations of children being taken away in error or on unsubstantiated claims of child abuse.

Supervisor David Yarborough said the youth court has become an issue of wide public concern in recent years.

The board wants to identify the causes of the “high turnover rate” of youth court staff and work on solutions to help both the court and the county move forward, Lafontaine said.

One resignation took effect Aug. 22, another Friday and the third is effective Sept. 19.

Deano could not be reached for comment Friday.