OUR VIEW: Time for a fresh voice at HCDJFS

The winds of change are blowing through the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services, providing a chance to finally get some fresh air into the beleaguered office. Embattled director Erich Dumbeck resigned Tuesday, effective June 1. Dumbeck has been director just three years, yet it has been anything but a smooth ride. The Efaw case. The Gravelles. A sexual harassment complaint. And those are the highlights.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 24, 2010

The winds of change are blowing through the Huron County Department of Job and Family Services, providing a chance to finally get some fresh air into the beleaguered office.

Embattled director Erich Dumbeck resigned Tuesday, effective June 1. Dumbeck has been director just three years, yet it has been anything but a smooth ride. The Efaw case. The Gravelles. A sexual harassment complaint. And those are the highlights.

But, it is unfair to blame Dumbeck for everything. He was not in charge of the agency when Connre Dixon was placed in the foster home of Paul Efaw, nor when the agency first learned of and decided against investigating the Gravelles. Perhaps he showed poor judgment in the situation surrounding the sexual harassment complaint, but an independent reviewer dismissed the complaint.

Dumbeck did have a major fault, however. Instead of standing up and promising to fully investigate the mistakes the agency made and discipline those responsible, he was loyal to his employees and took bullet after bullet for them. He remained steadfast in his support, long after it had become clear to everyone including a juror in the Gravelle case and the judge that social workers had made grievous errors.

In that way, perhaps it is best that Dumbeck stepped down. More than likely he knew that, as long as he remained, it would be difficult if not impossible for the agency to move on from these disasters and turn the focus back to helping those in need.

In fact, the only way the department will be able to get a clean slate is for the commissioners to bring in someone from the outside. A promotion from within, as Dumbeck's was, leaves the new director with the same old problems a bias and sense of loyalty to those he or she has worked with for years. It's a natural, understandable reaction and it cannot be permitted.

Only someone from the outside, with hands untarnished by past mistakes, can address problems in the agency and clear out those who continue to fail the children of Huron County.