WRAL Investigates

Two demoted probation officials get jobs back

Posted September 8, 2009
Updated September 9, 2009

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— Two officials who were demoted last year during a shake-up in the state's probation system have been reinstated to supervisory positions, WRAL News has learned.

Cheryl Morris, a chief probation and parole officer in Durham County, and Cindy Faison, a chief probation and parole officer in Wake County, were stripped of their supervisory duties last summer.

State mum on reinstating probation managers

Eleven managers in the Division of Community Corrections, including Morris and Faison, were transferred, demoted or retired last year during a state review of the agency's operations that was prompted by the slayings of two area college students.

Duke University graduate student Abhijit Mahato was shot and killed in his Durham apartment on Jan. 18, 2008, and Eve Carson, the student body president at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, was robbed, shot and dumped on a street near the Chapel Hill campus on March 5, 2008.

Police charged Laurence Alvin Lovette Jr. with murder in both cases, and they charged Demario James Atwater in Carson's slaying. Both were on probation at the time of the shootings, but probation officers didn't follow up on their cases.

Faison supervised the probation officers in charge of Atwater's file. She did flag problems several times, but his case went untouched for 13 months, according to a state audit.

The two women challenged their demotions, and the state Department of Correction quietly settled with them this spring rather than mediate their cases.

Both women will be reinstated with back pay. Cheryl Morris will have her annual salary restored to $46,748 and Cindy Faison will have her annual salary of $48,080 restored.

Despite assurances of government transparency by Gov. Beverly Perdue and Correction Secretary Alvin Keller, the department won't disclose the reasons behind the reinstatements.

"The best I can tell you is that we looked at the situation with our attorneys, and a settlement was the option that the agency thought was the best thing to put this behind us and move on," said Keith Acree, spokesman for the Department of Correction.

Acree cited state personnel laws to say the department can't talk about individual work performance.

North Carolina law does allow government agencies to release personnel information to ensure continued public confidence in the system. An agency must put the reason for disclosing the information in the affected employee's personnel file.

Morris and Faison declined to comment on their cases. While Faison has transferred to the Johnston County probation office, Morris is waiting for the next supervisory opening in the Durham County office.

Vincent Newman-Brooks, a former probation officer, has been a vocal critic of the state probation system, but he said he thought Faison did the best she could.

"She worked well with her staff, and she tried to maintain a professional atmosphere doing business according to what a probation officer should do," Newman-Brooks said.

None of the other nine Division of Community Corrections managers who lost their jobs in the shake-up challenged the moves or sought back pay.

State Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake, said he wants to meet with probation officials to understand the two reinstatements.

"I have more questions than answers," Stam said. "It's something I will be asking the department about why there is no explanation. What steps did they take? But I don't pre-judge what the answers might be."

54 Comments

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  • WB06 Sep 15, 2009

    Not to take DOC’s side but it should be made clear that Cheryl Morris had nothing to do with the murders. DOC and the media have frequently omitted information and no one has corrected them. CPPO Morris was not the officer supervising the offenders involved, nor was she supervisor of that officer. Note that the article mentioned that CPPO Morris’s demotion was “prompted by the slayings of two area college students” and it also stated that Faison supervised the Wake County officer.

    Please do not confuse this with me agreeing with the decisions of the department, but for over a year information has consistently been misreported or omitted. The general public still does not know the whole story.

  • james27613 Sep 9, 2009

    The probation officers failure to do their jobs, even attempt to do the job is a direct cause of the deaths of the two college students.

  • Mommyoftwo Sep 9, 2009

    One thing I wonder is how much Vincent was paid to stick up for Cindy Faison. Everybody in Wake County knows she never did her job and didn't care to. She was horrible as a supervisor and nobody was sad to see her go.

    I also find it interesting that Vincent is a critic of the same dept. that used to employ him. I'm sure if you look at his work record you'll see missed curfew checks and offenders that were "forgotten".

  • beachboater Sep 9, 2009

    "The best I can tell you is that we looked at the situation with our attorneys, and a settlement was the option that the agency thought was the best thing to put this behind us and move on," = Cheaper to pay than fight.

    Want to bet these two might be minority employees?

    Race and sex are tow biggies in the liberal court system.

  • gandalla Sep 9, 2009

    Dang, these probation officers don't get paid squat.

  • Here kitty kitty Sep 9, 2009

    What rights to the parents/families of these 2 dead students have to sue the state as pertains to this? Do they have any recourse?

  • Professor Sep 9, 2009

    North Carolina law does allow government agencies to release personnel information to ensure continued public confidence in the system."

    Its how the law is written and maybe it needs some changing.

  • Professor Sep 9, 2009

    Who's "rights" are we dealing with here? The probation officer's? The jail bird's? The families of those lost? Just wondering.
    familyfour

    As you already know, they all have some kind of right. It depends on how you look at it.

  • familyfour Sep 9, 2009

    "North Carolina law does allow government agencies to release personnel information to ensure continued public confidence in the system."

    That is truly disturbing.

  • familyfour Sep 9, 2009

    Why does our government continue to do things that outrage us?

    No answers? It's OUR money.

    How can they say they don't have any answers.

    Who's "rights" are we dealing with here? The probation officer's? The jail bird's? The families of those lost?

    Just wondering.

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