The Mezza Family deaths prompts the audit of DSS and hopefully change.
Deaths Of Three Rock Hill Children Prompts Audit Of DSS
POSTED: 6:58 am EDT April 28, 2005
ROCK HILL, S.C. -- The deaths of three children in Rock Hill at the hands of at least one of their parents have prompted an audit of the Department of Social Services.
The board that runs the state Legislative Audit Council voted Wednesday to review how DSS handles child abuse and neglect cases, internal investigations and disciplinary actions.
DSS was investigating the Meza family last August when the mother, father and three children died. Authorities say the children were drugged and their throats slit by either their mother, father or both parents.
Their York County home was set on fire and the parents then died in the blaze, deputies said.
The father, Jose Denis Meza, had been accused of molesting his 14-year-old daughter and an autopsy found she also had been sexually abused within hours of her death, authorities said.
The lawmaker who called for the audit, Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said the audit is fantastic news because it should not only uncover what flaws DSS had in the Meza case but could save other children.
An internal investigation by DSS led to suspensions for two supervisors and a reprimand of a care worker because they did not ensure interpreters were used with the Meza family, who came to the U.S. from Nicaragua
The employees also were cited for not conducting required home visits and not interviewing family members.
DSS has refused to discuss other aspects of its investigation, citing confidentiality of its records.
But the Legislative Audit Council has legal authority to look at previously confidential records, said George Schroeder, audit council director.
One thing the council does not plan to review is the agency's finances. DSS Director Kim Aydlette has said previously that the problems in the Meza case did not arise from lack of money.
But Sen. Linda Short, D-Chester, said the legislature has repeatedly cut DSS funding in recent years.
"In defense of DSS, we have cut them so much I have said publicly I feared that a child would die, Short said.