SCDSS Slammed By Supreme Court

AGENCY FOUND “GROSSLY NEGLIGENT” IN REMOVING CHILDREN FROM PARENTAL CUSTODY South Carolina’s Supreme Court has reversed an appeals court ruling involving the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) – concluding the dysfunctional agency acted with gross negligence related to the removal of two children from their parents’ custody in…


South Carolina’s Supreme Court has reversed an appeals court ruling involving the scandal-scarred S.C. Department of Social Services (SCDSS) – concluding the dysfunctional agency acted with gross negligence related to the removal of two children from their parents’ custody in 2008.

The case involves two special needs children, a five-year-old and seven-year-old, who were hospitalized in May 2008 after receiving medication from their parents to help them sleep at night.

The children’s parents – Diane Bass and Otis Bass of Fairfield County, S.C. – had a prescription for the medication.

So … what happened?  Well, a local pharmacy screwed the pooch and inadvertently mixed the children’s medicine at 1,000 times the prescribed strength.

Unfortunately for the Basses, though, SCDSS didn’t bother to nail down this particular bit of information prior to yanking their children away from them.

Not only that, rather than admitting its error – the agency attempted to justify its decision to remove the children by trumping up additional charges against these poor parents.

And when the whole thing unraveled, the SCDSS caseworker claimed she was “unable to conduct a thorough investigation because she was unwell after a recent neck surgery, and was taking pain medication that affected her ability to perform her job functions.”

Jeez …

In its ruling (.pdf here), the state’s Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed that the agency “acted in a grossly negligent fashion with respect to this investigation.”

Obviously this website has been sharply critical of SCDSS in the past for its failure to act decisively in protecting the best interests of vulnerable children.  In fact our reporting on precisely that front helped lead to the resignation of the agency’s former director.

But just as it is terribly wrong to leave children in dangerous situations, it is equally wrong to remove them from their homes without cause.

SCDSS is supposed to know the difference.  In fact taxpayers provide the agency with hundreds of millions of dollars each year expecting its workers to know the difference.

Clearly they don’t …

The court’s ruling comes at a tenuous time for SCDSS – which continues to underperform despite massive infusions of new taxpayer money.

Of course that’s not going to stop state lawmakers and governor Nikki Haley from throwing additional money at the agency, because in South Carolina government is never punished for its incompetence – instead it is rewarded with more of your money.


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Mom December 2, 2015 at 1:13 pm

“But just as it is terribly wrong to leave children in dangerous situations, it is equally wrong to remove them from their homes without cause.”
Just as it is wrong to let a criminal go unpunished, it is MUCH worse to incriminate an innocent man. DSS (the government-run child welfare agency) should always err on the side of leaving a child with bad parents than taking a child from good parents.

The Colonel December 2, 2015 at 1:26 pm

Hey Will can you do us a favor? When you write an article that includes South Carolina’s Supreme Court can you use the catch phrase “the drunken sots on” so that we’ll know you’re talking about the drunken idiots over on Gervais instead of the regular idiots on 1st Street NE in DC?

Here’s how it would work in use:

Now we’ll automatically now you’re talking about Toal and company rather than Roberts and crew.

Tazmaniac December 2, 2015 at 2:01 pm

Toe-mot-oh, toe-may-toe and the drunken sots, may-ters.

TARDevolution December 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm

How can I blame this on Democrats and Liberal-Tarians? Ah damn I just shit all over myself again. Why do I run from who, and what, I am?

9" December 2, 2015 at 1:56 pm

The kids were given an OD of sedatives,and the caseworker’s a drugstore junkie…
I’ve been to,”the palace” before.I believe it.

erneba December 2, 2015 at 2:00 pm

After being in more than a few DSS offices, they need a sign on the entrance for the employees.
This is a hole in the ground….This is your ass.

We must start with the basics.

Tazmaniac December 2, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Don’t get me going on bureaucracies being dumping grounds for affirmative action grads with useless degrees.

erneba December 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm

Lot of truth to your statement. There are some good people there and they are held to more subjective than objective standards. And dealing with some of the cases they encounter there is no set of rules in the rule book that guides them through. Frustration and burnt out is common and many just adapt and watch the calendar for retirement day.

concerned December 3, 2015 at 8:34 am

Now they need to hold the case worker and anyone else involved accountable. I just recently witnessed a case worker lie under oath against another worker in a wrongful termination hearing. She was caught red handed lying. However she’s still drawing a check like nothing happened.

Rocky Verdad December 2, 2015 at 2:05 pm

They need a new sign. That one looks like it’s 1973.

Tazmaniac December 2, 2015 at 2:07 pm

They haven’t changed it because they are afraid of misspelling the new one.

shifty henry December 2, 2015 at 2:12 pm


mamatiger92 December 2, 2015 at 2:16 pm


shifty henry December 2, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Yeah, and reading comprehension is also important — like the guy who drove to Charleston for an exciting weekend, and spent Friday night in a warehouse.

The Truth will set you free! December 2, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Just out of curiosity, did the SC Board of Pharmacy act against the pharmacist’s license for incompetence or the “compounding pharmacy”‘s” Pharmacy Permit? [But, as it is part of Dept of Labor Licensing And Regulation, known generally as the “DOLLAR” agency by those of us who have to pay exhorbitant license fees for the privilege of practicing our profession, many of us doubt if anything was done]. One nice thing about the lawyers, they do suspend or disbar the scoundrels, thieves, and incompetents on a regular basis.

After all, the mission of all of the health related practice boards (and some of the others) is to “protect the public.”

Also a pity that the name of the “compounding pharmacy” was not made public, so that a “thinking person” could avoid it like the plague.

Manny December 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Ask Senator Kevin Bryant. He is the pharmacist that is in the Senate and is making millions of dollars off his insider status. it is an election year.
Lets hope he is run off!

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Lone Ranger December 2, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Umm…Kemosabe…seems this blip on SC DSS’s radar screen doesn’t mean they won’t win

It’s just Jean Toal trying to stick her red nose into politics—no doubt Jean’s drinking again !!!

Todd December 2, 2015 at 7:18 pm

Seriously, fuck SCDSS, the whole organization is corrupt, lazy, and disgusting.

Aaron December 2, 2015 at 7:32 pm

To change an agency like this, one must remove the the top two or three levels of leadership, otherwise the aberrant behavior will not change. They can be transferred, retired, fired or sat in a corner with a newspaper…it does not matter which but they must be out the door and out of the way.

Otherwise, they will delay, obfuscate, prevaricate and anything else to protect their legacy, jobs, retirement or themselves from legal jeopardy.

33 years in state government has taught me this lesson and until they rid the agency of the lousy leadership all this effort is a waste.

erneba December 2, 2015 at 9:50 pm

Bad management is just endemic to DSS. there is a certain inertia to bad management that precludes its own destruction. No government agency, anywhere, anyhow, has ever stripped down and started anew. It would be nice to go in , clean house and start all over. That’s not going to happen , a little cleaning up around the edges, some new faces, and a sense of euphoria that everything is going to be OK because we “wished upon a star.” just won’t work.

MissManagement December 3, 2015 at 6:38 pm

DHEC and its environmental side has replaced the top two levels, but Aaron is right, it needs to go at least one or two levels lower in problem areas, which at DHEC is mainly the water bureau.

Guest December 3, 2015 at 10:06 pm

Start with Amber. She’s incompetent.

MoreKid'sBloodOnNikki'sHands December 3, 2015 at 11:30 am

I suspect we need to start hanging dead DSS babies aronud Nikki Haley’s neck to keep her reminded that State Agencies have obligations beyond pay checks for Her cronies, contributors, and the wives and children of cronies and contributors. Was it her brother who bought a Lambroghini with Medicaid money?

bamburger December 3, 2015 at 3:37 pm

You mean brother in law, or should I say ex-brother in law.

Bible Thumper December 5, 2015 at 9:48 am

If I had to take responsibility for everything my ex-brother in law did. Aaaww man! would I be in trouble.

ClaimYourReward December 5, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Poor dumb fuck. see if Animal Control will Rapture you, and put you out of your misery

Bible Thumper December 5, 2015 at 9:44 am

This horrible injustice occured three years before Haley was elected governor. ** 2008 ** — She took office in January 2011.

nitrat December 5, 2015 at 10:16 am

That’s why I call it the Sanford/Haley administration.
Sanford started the cabinet agencies down the path of political hackery. Haley has doubled down.
It will only get worse until she starts hiring professionals in their fields to run the agencies in her cabinets agencies instead of mostly trial lawyers.

Bible Thumper December 5, 2015 at 10:23 am

There is no such thing as the Sanford/Haley administration.
I googled it three different ways.
No results found for “Sanford/Haley administration”.
No results found for “Sanford-Haley administration”.
No results found for “Sanford Haley administration”.

but but but March 8, 2016 at 6:13 pm

What more can you expect from a hick Haley and her supply of rhino politicians, they need to have their butts sued off, you could tell her allegiance when she bad mouthed Donald Trump in favor of her good old boys.


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