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KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | News, Weather, Sports

County Starts Search for Juvenile Services Director

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

It's been two weeks since Brazos County's Director of Juvenile Services was fired, but the storm clouds still linger.

News Three has obtained a copy of results from surveys given to employees before Rhonda Gilchrist was fired.

Late last year, all 90 employees were asked to participate in a survey.

It was given after a change in leadership that resulted in divisiveness within the department.

Sixty-two employees answered the survey.

And what's contained in their ratings and responses led to the firing of director Rhonda Gilchrist two weeks ago.

This evening we know that specific people within the department not only wanted Gilchrist out, but may have wanted her job.

One person wrote "we have numerous employees who try to disrupt and out right conspire to make the department look bad. Employees like Linda Ricketson, Joel Hein, Patrick Munoz and Barbie Piccolo."

Another said Rhonda Gilchrist "portrays a "my way or the highway" attitude".

And one employee added that upper management sets ''people up for failure''.

In the survey, Linda Ricketson and Patrick Munoz were brought up time and again, accused by other employees of undermining Gilchrist's authority because they were passed over for the job.

Wednesday, Ricketson says the survey was able to bring to light what needed to be addressed and a comment at this time would hurt the healing already in progress.

Munoz says he never undermined anyone's authority and was voted as employee of the year in 2004.

Joel Hein, says the allegations against him are false.

Hein says personnel records show he's been an outstanding employee for 13 years at the department.

Barbie Piccolo did not return our call.

The survey results paint a picture of low morale, poor communication, and favoritism within the department.

But on the flip side 63 percent of employees say juvenile services is a good employer.

And a majority believe the organization is successful.

Chairman of the Juvenile Board, Judge Randy Sims says this type of employee conflict is typical with a department of it's size.

"For as many people that are working out there you're gonna have employee, employee conflicts out there. Everybody's different. The director's job is to keep that heading in a very positive direction. Sometimes you can do it with a slap on the wrist, sometimes it takes more drastic action," says Judge Sims.

The search is well underway for a new director.

Wednesday Judge Sims announced an Austin consulting firm has been contacted to head up the search.

The juvenile board will be involved only in picking a candidate from a narrowed down field of applicants.

Judge Sims says while current employees are encourage to apply for the director's position, they'll also be looking outside for a replacement.

Recently the Texas Youth Commission toured the detention center again since Gilchrist was fired and has given the department a favorable rating.


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