South Carolina General Assembly
120th Session, 2013-2014

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Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter

H. 5295


House Resolution
Sponsors: Reps. J.E. Smith, M.S. McLeod, Bernstein, Cobb-Hunter, Jefferson, King, Douglas, W.J. McLeod, Funderburk, Stavrinakis, R.L. Brown and Rutherford
Document Path: l:\council\bills\nbd\11354ac14.docx

Introduced in the House on May 27, 2014
Currently residing in the House Committee on Judiciary

Summary: Lillian B. Koller


     Date      Body   Action Description with journal page number
   5/27/2014  House   Introduced (House Journal-page 71)
   5/27/2014  House   Referred to Committee on Judiciary 
                        (House Journal-page 71)

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(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)



Whereas, in early 2011 Governor Nikki Haley appointed Lillian B. Koller as Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS), a cabinet agency, directly accountable to the Governor, responsible for the supervision and administration of the public welfare activities and functions of the State; and

Whereas, foremost among the department's responsibilities is providing child protective services to children in this State who are at risk for abuse or neglect; whereby, the State is charged with establishing a system for protecting these endangered children from injury and harm and with safeguarding their well being and development; and

Whereas, Mrs. Koller took office February 10, 2011, and by the summer and fall of 2012, reports, concerns, and complaints about the department and its leadership and direction began to surface; the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, at one of its fall public hearings, received, among other items, a disturbing report on South Carolina child death statistics; many members of the House of Representatives requested an audit by the South Carolina Legislative Audit Council to determine, among other things, if the department is following state and federal law for child protection; and the Senate Department of Social Services Oversight Committee was established and is conducting public hearings and an ongoing investigation of the department; and

Whereas, complaints received and testimony given have come from across the State from families, former employees, and stakeholders in the child welfare system, including a county guardian ad litem program, law enforcement, and coroners' offices; overwhelmingly, testimony has demonstrated that, during Lillian Koller's tenure as director, the department has failed in its mission to protect the children of South Carolina; and

Whereas, not only have systemic concerns been raised, including the department's lack of transparency and cooperation with other agencies, but also concerns about a hostile work environment that has become unbearable for many: for those who dedicated their careers and decades of their lives to providing quality children's services and who have been dismissed or replaced; for those whose caseloads have far exceeded the ability to be effectively managed; for those who have been threatened, humiliated, or degraded, often in the presence of their peers; for those who have chosen not to voice concerns for fear of retaliation; and for many of the more than half of the forty-six county DSS directors who have left the department since Director Koller arrived; and

Whereas, unfortunately these systemic concerns are greatly surpassed by, but also significantly impact, the quality and effectiveness of protective services that have, or in many cases have not, been provided to South Carolina's vulnerable children who are dependent upon this department to keep them safe and free from harm; and

Whereas, testimony was presented at an October 2013 public hearing of the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children based on a review of child death cases referred to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) because of suspicious circumstances in the cause of death. It was reported that the Department of Social Services had received a report of abuse or neglect concerning the child: in 312 of the 472 cases referred to SLED since 2009; and in 41 cases out of a monthly average child death rate of thirteen each month from January through August of 2013; and

Whereas, not only is it tragic, and a violation of department policy, but it is unacceptable, that a four year old autistic boy was beaten to death following his return from foster care to the home of his parents when the department had received numerous reports of abuse of this child and had not made a home visit to the child for a number of months before his death; and it is also unimaginable and heartbreaking, and a violation of department policy, that for forty-nine days the department failed to locate the mother of a five month old baby with apnea who died the fiftieth day after the department had received a report from a medical professional that the mother was not complying with a doctor's orders to keep a heart monitor on this infant twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; and

Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives can no longer accept the mismanagement, deleterious leadership, and, most importantly, the death of innocent South Carolina children to whom the South Carolina Department of Social Services owes a duty to protect and keep safe, and accordingly, the members of the House of Representatives find that Lillian B. Koller is not capable of effectively carrying out the duties and responsibilities required of the director of the department and does not possess the qualifications that this body and the children and citizens of this State rightfully expect and deserve from a person in her position. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That by this resolution, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, call for the resignation of Lillian B. Koller, Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, and in the alternative strongly urge Governor Nikki Haley to remove Director Koller from office.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to Governor Nikki Haley and Lillian B. Koller, Director of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.


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