Mayor wants review of Union Co. DSS after abuse

Mayor wants review of Union Co. DSS after abuse


by DIANA RUGG / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

Posted on November 24, 2013 at 9:51 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 6:40 AM

UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- A Union County mayor is calling for a review of all Department of Social Services cases in the county since the legal guardian of an 11-year-old boy found handcuffed to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck was hired 10 years ago.

Mayor Michael Alvarez of Indian Trail said Sunday he wants every case from the last 10 years reviewed, starting with those involving Wanda Sue Larson.

Larson and Dorian Harper are in Union County jail charged with child abuse, false imprisonment, and animal cruelty after a Union County deputy found the 11-year-old boy on the porch shivering.

Union County DSS fired Larson, a former supervisor, Friday for dereliction of duty.

Alvarez said because of Larson, all DSS cases during her tenure are now suspect and should be reviewed.  He said he’s heard from several parents with children in DSS custody since Larson’s arrest.

"Whether or not the outcomes are the same, we'll be told after they're looked at,” said Alvarez.  “But in the nature of transparency -- and doing the right thing -- it must be done."

“Sandy” – she didn’t want to give her last name – is the mother of one of the last children placed in foster care under Larson’s direction.  She said her seven-year-old son, Jared, was taken away from her two weeks ago because of a custody dispute dating back nearly three years. 

That was one week before Larson was arrested.

“That's my baby and I want him back home,” she said while smoothing out a green ribbon that reads, “Justice for Jared,” and wiping away a tear.  

Sandy said she gets to call Jared every night and visit for an hour once a week.  It’s not enough.

“He hugs me and he whispers in my ear and he tells me, ‘I love you mommy. I want to live with you, mommy’.. and it's heartbreaking.”

She and other parents agree with Alvarez that cases involving Larson need to be reviewed.

“Wanda Sue Larson abused a child on her front porch,” said Alvarez. “How many children have went through her office that were abused by the system?”

Alvarez said the decision to review cases must be made by county commissioners, who have authority over DSS.

At least one county commissioner contacted by NBC Charlotte replied that he couldn’t comment on the case because it’s still under investigation.  But Frank Aikmus said the county is reviewing “a number of things” about Larson and DSS.

Another group, the Justice for All Coalition, plans another press conference for Monday to detail more allegations against Union County DSS.