Review Complete of Cheltenham Incident


(BALTIMORE, 8/20/10) -- Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH), a unit of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), has cited the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) in connection with the death of a teacher at the Cheltenham Youth Facility in Cheltenham, Md., in February 2010. Concurrently, DJS released a copy of its Office of Inspector General (OIG) review of the incident (PDF document, 4MB, download Adobe Acrobat for free.

MOSH's recommendations to further enhance the safety and security of DJS staff and youth are consistent with those made by the OIG in a report resulting from an inquiry completed in March 2010.

"MOSH takes very seriously its duty under the law to investigate and enforce workplace safety standards in the State of Maryland, in both the private and public sectors," DLLR Secretary Alexander M. Sanchez said. "We believe that DJS is committed to a fostering a safe workplace and that Secretary DeVore will continue to take the necessary steps to improve its procedures."

Although public agencies such as DJS are not issued financial penalties, they are required to communicate and train employees on hazards and expected behavior, as well as have management enforce prescribed safety rules.

"I would like to thank DLLR for its thorough and professional review. Hannah Wheeling's death was a tragedy and we all share the goal of making sure such a tragedy does not happen again," said DJS Secretary Donald W. DeVore. "As part of DJS's commitment to an open and transparent review of this terrible incident, we are also making publicly available a copy of the internal review of Ms. Wheeling's death conducted by the DJS Office of Inspector General."

During the last five months, DJS has taken the following actions to increase the safety of staff and youth:

  • Terminated 2 staff members, demoted a high-level administrator, suspended a supervisor and suspended a program manager.
  • Increased the frequency of its own random unannounced audits of security procedures to ensure compliance at DJS facilities. Cheltenham alone has been subject to 3 audits in the last 5 months with a successful outcome for each audit.
  • Provided safety and security training to non-direct care workers, including teachers, nurses, and behavioral health staff in partnership with the Maryland Professional Employees Council. Additionally, DJS continues to work cooperatively with AFSCME and AFT Healthcare to enhance employee safety.
  • Re-trained all direct-care staff at Cheltenham on security policies.
  • Implemented a new policy Statewide that requires department heads at facilities to confirm that all employees who are not relieved at the end of their shifts have exited their work location.