Superintendent's trouble in Georgia comes to light

BALTIMORE --- The acting superintendent of a state-run juvenile detention center resigned under pressure from a similar position in Georgia two years ago, public records show.

Wallis Norman quit under threat of dismissal after he was found to have hidden allegations that a guard assaulted a youth at the Griffin Regional Youth Detention Center south of Atlanta. Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Donald W. DeVore said Friday that he was unaware of Mr. Norman's past and that the department would investigate.

"I was told that we did contact them, that we did get the necessary clearance forms through Georgia and that Georgia did not raise any issue to us employing him in Maryland," Mr. DeVore said. Mr. Norman was hired by the department in May 2006 and was promoted in October to the top job. Juvenile justice advocates say the news again emphasizes the need for more thorough background checks by the state.

Tammy Brown, a spokeswoman for the Department of Juvenile Services, said Maryland authorities checked with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice but weren't alerted about the investigation into Mr. Norman. Georgia officials could not immediately determine whether Maryland requested records that would have included information about the incident.

Georgia officials concluded in November 2005 that Mr. Norman, then assistant director of the Griffin facility, ordered a correctional officer to delete from a report claims that a guard had assaulted a youth.