ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice has satisfied federal auditors that it no longer requires intensive monitoring, members of the state agency’s board learned Thursday.
They also learned that recent attempts to find qualified applicants to fill vacancies are bearing fruit.
The monitoring began last winter when officials from the U.S. Department of Education issued citations to the state agency for how it was handling $3.3 million in federal money earmarked for educating children in detention.
Audrey Armistead, the Juvenile Department’s association school superintendent, told the board that federal auditors gave the state a clean bill of health on Friday.
“I’m really very happy again to say that we’re no longer under monitoring from the (U.S.) Department of Education,” she said.
She said the federal reviewers were impressed with the state’s plans to coordinate the activities of various divisions of the Juvenile Department into long-range plans.
“It’s one of the great things to hear your report that we’re not under the monitoring,” said board Chairman Avery Niles.
The state agency spent a longer period under scrutiny from the federal Justice Department over a wider range of problems. For 11 years until May 2009, the Justice Department demanded improvements in education, medical and mental-health treatment and the protection of detained children.
A continuing challenge for the Juvenile Department is finding good employees. The death of a teenager locked up in a state facility in Augusta last November triggered an investigation that led to 11 employees, including the local director, quitting or being fired for sexual misconduct, physical abuse and helping smuggle in contraband.
Inspections at the agency’s 26 other facilities across the state turned up similar violations elsewhere.
On Wednesday, the agency participated in a job fair for veterans and effectively hired seven on the spot, pending background checks.
“A military background means they are accustomed to the structure and the discipline that we need in the ranks right now,” said Assistant Commissioner Sarah Draper. “... We like hiring people who’ve already had special training in that area.”