5 placed on leave during CPS investigation

Dec 3, 2013, 1:23 PM | Updated: 6:54 pm

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PHOENIX — Five Child Protective Services staff members were placed on administrative leave Tuesday as part of an on-going investigation into why 6,500 reports of child abuse were ignored.

The Department of Economic Security said the paid leave is standard while investigating an employee for possible wrongdoing. It has no disciplinary implications.

On Monday, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer called for a second outside review of more than 6,500 child-abuse reports CPS failed to investigate in the past four years.

Most of the closures happened in the past 20 months as a team assigned to prescreen tips phoned into the state’s child abuse hotline tried to manage a soaring workload in field offices that do the investigations.

CPS investigators discovered the practice of closing uninvestigated cases in August, and it was made public Nov. 21. Brewer also has assigned state police to investigate who was responsible for deciding to close the cases, which require investigation under state law.

Brewer, a Republican, again resisted calls from some Democrats and child welfare advocates for her to fire Clarence Carter, who leads CPS’ parent agency, the Department of Economic Security. She said he had done “a fine job.”

“I believe, personally, that there has been a break in the command, and we will get to the bottom of it, and somebody — people — will be held accountable,” Brewer said. “We’re not going to tolerate this. I think we need a complete, full investigation, we need to know where all the bodies are buried, if you will, no pun intended. But we’re not going to start attacking people until we know that we’ve got a basis for doing that.”

Carter declined to answer questions Monday at a news conference announcing the outside review.

KTAR’s Jim Cross and the Associated Press Contributed to this report.

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5 placed on leave during CPS investigation