July 31, 2007 in Idaho

Idaho CPS official faces scrutiny after cursing parent

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A veteran supervisor for North Idaho’s child protective services program is facing possible discipline – and an Idaho Senate investigation – after inadvertently leaving an obscene, insulting message on the phone of a parent whose child had been removed by the agency.

Randy Geib, program manager for the Idaho Health and Welfare Department’s five northern counties, thought he’d hung up after leaving a message July 19 for Bryan Sturdy, of Coeur d’Alene.

Instead, the recorded message reveals Geib referring to Sturdy in unprintable terms, joking that he’d almost left his home phone number instead of a work number for Sturdy to return the call.

“I almost gave that (expletive) my home phone number,” Geib said, laughing. “I started, you know, to, uh, (expletive). That’s all I want is that crazy mother (expletive), oh yeah. Jesus, man, our clients have all heard that.”

A Hayden private investigator obtained the recording and shared it with Sen. Mike Jorgensen, R-Athol, last week.

“We’re tired of it,” Phillip Thompson, vice president of Confidential Investigations said. “This isn’t the first time something has came up. We’ve been having reoccurring events.”

Thompson said his agency frequently conducts investigations related to child custody battles. He said Sturdy came to him about a week ago with concerns about Geib’s recordings. Thompson said he’s been unhappy with local CPS workers for about two years. He claims they have obstructed investigations and failed, in his opinion, to “look after the public’s best interest.”

Monday, Jorgensen called for an investigation into Geib’s behavior and his agency’s actions.

“It’s disappointing, and it’s an embarrassment to the state of Idaho,” Jorgensen said Monday, reached by phone in Arkansas. “I hope that’s not an example of how the citizens of the state of Idaho are being respected.”

Geib did not return a call Monday about the incident.

Geib’s boss, Michelle Britton, division administrator for Idaho’s Family and Community Services program, said she could think of no reason a supervisor would refer to a client in that way.

Geib, who has been with the department for at least three decades, could face suspension or other discipline, Britton said. But she added that she couldn’t discuss what action had been taken because employee disciplinary actions are confidential.

“We would want to talk to the employee, and we would want to talk to the client that actually got the message and take appropriate action,” she said. “I do think it’s fair to say that as soon as I got the call, I started making calls.”

Jorgensen said he spoke to Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Nampa, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Lodge could not be reached for comment, but Jorgensen said that she, too, was upset by the recorded message.

“I want the department head to look into it and clean it up,” Jorgensen said.

Sturdy could not be reached for comment. Michael Palmer, a lawyer representing him, said Sturdy was trying to speak to a caseworker about his 5-year-old son, who was the subject of CPS findings.

Thompson said the boy had been placed in foster care by the CPS workers. Geib, the caseworker’s supervisor, returned Sturdy’s call.

“Bryan was outraged,” Palmer said. “He’s concerned that if this is the attitude of the director, it’s certainly going to be handed down to the employees. It could relate to how the department works with him in connection with his child.”


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