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Group organizing effort to call for the removal of social service board members

Rockbridge County investigation scolds board for child deaths on its watch

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, VA – A group in Rockbridge County petitioning for the members of the social services board to be removed met for the first time Friday night.

This comes after an investigative grand jury scolded the board for allowing the deaths and sexual abuse of children happen on its watch.

It was in an old pre-school that the "Fixing Rockbridge Social Services" group had its humble beginnings Friday evening in the effort to remove members of the Rockbridge Social Services Board.

The meeting drew a small crowd for a big mission.

"We're concerned about the board, the social services board still being in place," said Candice Berry.

Berry is a counselor who worked with the Department of Social Services before any evidence of impropriety at the department to light. The "Fixing Rockbridge Social Services" group says misconduct that included the death of two children in foster care, and widespread shredding of documents happened on the board's watch.

A recent report by an investigative grand jury states "even after infant deaths, the board members asked no probing questions. The... investigation revealed a Board of Directors willing to routinely receive reports... with no way of verifying the completeness or accuracy of these reports."

Berry is just one of the more than 70 people calling for the board members removal in an online petition.

Mark Reed presented that petition to the board members at their meeting last month.  Reed says one member had no interest in hearing his argument.

"He said on the record to the public that he stopped listening to me after I called for the board to be dissolved. I told him, I really thought that sums up the real problem," said Reed.

WSLS spoke with Rockbridge Supervisor Chair John Higgins Friday, who said the Board of Supervisors does have plans to discuss replacing the social services board members at its next work session.

Berry says, it's a start, but she wants to continue working to make sure it happens.

"I'm hoping that maybe we can also get a new board in that will also work with the community and not be so closed off," said Berry.

In addition to the online petition, the group says it plans to speak with county leaders directly about removing the members of the social services board, starting with the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors on June 12th.