More than a week after her termination, ousted Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services director Mary Wilson issued a three-page statement Thursday announcing she will appeal the decision.
In a separate letter to county commissioners, she said her dismissal was unfair, unjust and smacks of intimidation aimed at me and my staff.
County Manager Harry Jones on Sept. 5 announced that Wilson had been fired, but he didnt say why. She emailed her first public statement on the dismissal to The Charlotte Observer Thursday.
In it, she alleged that there was a host of problems at the agency, and said shed been trying to rectify them during her four-year tenure.
She wrote that her greatest challenge at DSS has been bringing forward the bad news of neglect, practices putting children at risk, wasteful spending, lack of controls to ensure that the taxpayer is protected and the backlash associated with continuing to uncover failure to adhere to policy.
The potential liability to the county has been a constant weight as I worked 12-14 hours a day trying to right this ship, she said.
She did not specify what she meant by neglect, or how children were allegedly put at risk. She also didnt say exactly how she felt money was being misspent.
Asked to elaborate, she sent an email saying: The statement is all I will say at this time.
Wilson, who was earning $151,410, said in her statement that Jones asked her to resign on Aug. 30 or face termination proceedings.
When I requested more information I did not receive any documentation to support any allegations of wrongdoing and I declined to resign, Wilson said. She was fired Sept. 4.
In the letter she sent to county commissioners Thursday, Wilson said she had several concerns with her termination, including that the timing was questionable with the start of the Democratic National Convention and that documents in her personnel file which are favorable to me are missing.
She asks commissioners to intervene because Jones has the final word on any appeal. Among Wilsons requests are that a representative sub-set of the county commissioners serve as the review panel for her appeal.
Board Chairman Harold Cogdell said he would not comment on the specific issues Wilson raised in her statement or her letter to commissioners. He added that issues regarding failed oversight or lack of tracking of resources within the Department of Social Services have not been identified by our internal audit department or audit review committee and have not been brought to the attention of the commissioners.
Since taking over DSS in 2008, Wilson has been accused of racial discrimination, criticized for spending about $20,000 on new office furniture and questioned for hiring the relatives of powerful government officials.
Last year, a former DSS employee filed a lawsuit against the county alleging Wilson discriminated against her and made inappropriate comments about Hispanics.
Jones often publicly defended her. But last week, he announced that Wilson had been terminated.
Wilson said her greatest joy has been serving with the staff at DSS, whom she said care deeply (and) labor without expectation of high pay and work in taxing conditions.
In her statement, Wilson also writes about the collaboration between DSS and several community partners.
Kim Rhodarmer, executive director of the Matthews HELP Center, said DSS established a satellite office at her organization. Rhodarmer said Wilson had stopped by the center at least two times to meet with her and see the centers facilities.
She was very interested in Matthews Help Center and our growth, and also, if the community partnership was effective and if it was providing a real value to the clients it was serving, Rhodarmer said.
The Observer requested personnel records for Wilson last week, but the county would not provide them. Because Wilson had indicated she will appeal her termination, officials have said. Mecklenburg Deputy Attorney Tyrone Wade said last week the county would make documents available after the appeals process is complete.
The decision leaves Mecklenburgs largest agency without a permanent leader for now. As the countys largest agency, DSS, which has a $161 million budget and more than 1,000 employees, oversees programs such as Medicaid, food stamps, foster care and adoption.