ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Legislators plan to look deeper into Redfield center's operation

PIERRE -- The Legislature's oversight panel wants an anonymous survey of South Dakota Developmental Center employees at Redfield. The decision Tuesday comes in the wake of a field hearing and tour at the institution by legislators on June 20. Tha...

PIERRE - The Legislature's oversight panel wants an anonymous survey of South Dakota Developmental Center employees at Redfield.

The decision Tuesday comes in the wake of a field hearing and tour at the institution by legislators on June 20.

That had followed a tense meeting Jan. 25 during the 2016 legislative session when lawmakers received complaints from former employees.

Jan Banghart subsequently resigned as the center's director Feb. 8.

To cover the vacancy, Barb Abeln served as the interim director. She is a long-time member of the Redfield staff.

ADVERTISEMENT

Abeln received the permanent appointment on June 13. The field visit by the Legislature's Government Operations and Audit Committee occurred one week later.

Those same legislators met behind closed doors Tuesday morning.

When they returned to their open meeting, Rep. Justin Cronin called for state Human Services Secretary Gloria Pearson to have an employee survey conducted among the Redfield staff.

Cronin, R-Gettysburg, said one of the items that came out of legislative testimony last winter was the perception that previous survey results at Redfield weren't kept anonymous.

He called the new survey a step in the right direction.

Rep. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, said the legislative committee must help ensure state government's programs are "at the highest level" and clients receive "the highest quality of care."

She said the department secretary would be required to provide her management plans to the committee.

Cronin said he wants the survey completed and the results available to the committee by Nov. 25.

ADVERTISEMENT

"This is not a got-you or a blame on anyone on either side," he said.

Cronin added that some of the information received at the Redfield meeting was outside the committee's scope and the committee directed other entities in state government to investigate.

He said the goal isn't to find who's right or wrong in the dispute about management practices.

"The main concern is for the consumer who are the people we serve in the state," he said.

He said it's like an audit of a family business called by a family member so they could learn what was right.

"We want an anonymous survey, so there's no fear," he said.

Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, said secretary Pearson is committed to a path of continuous improvement and has been working with consultants on best practices.

Heineman said the Legislature should continue to track the performance measures being developed.

ADVERTISEMENT

The committee voted 7-0 to proceed with the survey.

"The South Dakota Developmental Center serves a very critical position in this state," Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings, said.

Banghart, after she left the center's employment, went to work for a consulting firm, Benchmark.

The company began offering case management services in South Dakota during 2016 for developmentally disabled people. Banghart was one of four regional directors.

What To Read Next
Members Only
“In our industry there aren’t a lot of young people in it. I like the fact that there are a lot of young people in agriculture here,” he said of the Mitchell area.
Members Only
After the departure of longtime superintendent Marje Kaiser and the hiring of Dan Trefz, who recently resigned, advocates say the specialty school needs help from lawmakers to reach its past heights.
Over the past year, the city has been mulling over bringing a secondary water source to Mitchell – a move Mayor Bob Everson said is aimed at positioning the city to grow.
At issue was the attendance at a legislative conference in Hawaii last December by Spencer Gosch and Jamie Smith.