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Director of criticized state Development Center retires

REDFIELD (AP) -- The director of the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield has retired following criticism by some former employees. Jan Banghart announced her decision to retire immediately in an email to workers on Monday. She did not e...

REDFIELD (AP) - The director of the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield has retired following criticism by some former employees.

Jan Banghart announced her decision to retire immediately in an email to workers on Monday. She did not elaborate on her reasons, the American News reported.

"Remember to be proud of what you do and who you are, as you are truly compassionate, dedicated, and committed to providing excellent services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities even in the most challenging times," Banghart wrote.

Some former employees have accused the Redfield center of having a hostile administration and a dangerous work environment. The facility also is dealing with a staff shortage - more than 40 open positions out of about 340 - that has resulted in required overtime for some employees.

Former employee Paul Register, one of the leading critics of the facility, said Banghart's decision to leave is not enough.

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"It wasn't just Banghart, it was the entire administration," he said.

Banghart's decision to retire was her choice, according to Marilyn Hanson, administrative assistant with the state Department of Human Services.

"She was not asked to resign," Hanson said, adding that Banghart was a dedicated public servant and "a champion for people with disabilities."

A union representing government workers has scheduled meetings with center employees on Thursday to discuss the prospect of unionizing.

Banghart previously said the center has taken several steps to fill positions, keep current workers and better support staff.

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