Changes continue in wake of Gwinnett child’s starving death

At least six DFCS workers have been disciplined or terminated after 10-year-old Emani Moss’ starvation death. (File photo)

At least six DFCS workers have been disciplined or terminated after 10-year-old Emani Moss’ starvation death. (File photo)

ATLANTA — Emani Moss died hungry.

Allegedly starved and left in a bathtub to die by her father and stepmother, the 10-year-old Lawrenceville girl was abused by her family and largely ignored by the system. But since her partially burned body was discovered early in the morning of Nov. 2, the wheels of change have slowly begun to turn.

When coupled with the unnecessary death of a another metro Atlanta child, the end of Emani Moss’ life led Gov. Nathan Deal to pledge $27 million to hire more than 500 new case workers and supervisors for the Division of Family and Children Services. The director of Georgia’s Office of the Child Advocate, oft-maligned by her peers, has resigned.

As a series of documents, letters and emails obtained via the Georgia Open Records Act shows, at least six DFCS workers who had a hand in fumbling the Emani Moss case have since been disciplined or terminated.

Before Emani Moss’ death, DFCS had contact with her, her family or those concerned about her at least six times. Tiffany Moss, her stepmother, was charged with child abuse in 2010, but little to nothing was done on several occasions since.

Allegedly negligent DFCS employees have begun to pay the price.

Records obtained by the Daily Post show two DFCS employees with roles in the Moss case were terminated in early December: Anshay Tull, who worked in the department’s “centralized communication intake center,” and Tawana McMillian, a social services administrator. The women has seven and eight years experience at DFCS, respectively.

Both of their firings revolved around a report in August during which an anonymous caller said Emani “looked very slim and quiet and appeared afraid to interact” and that her family had a DFCS history. Tull reportedly filed the call as a “screen out” — meaning no further investigation is necessary — because no address was given for the family in question.

McMillian reportedly accepted that report at face value, passing it down the chain without doing any further research.

“The only statement included in the report by the intake worker is as follows: ‘This referral was reviewed and approved as a screen out due to no maltreatment’,” said a Dec. 4 email sent by DFCS Region 15 Director Lee Biggar said. “There is no other information that describes the prior report.”

Regina Dismuke, a social service supervisor with 15 years of DFCS experience, received a “final warning” letter on Dec. 9, also a product of the call in August.

Dismuke reportedly “”failed to thoroughly review the case history to recognize previous issues involving this family and made no attempt to locate them” and recommended that the case be screened out.

As part of her reprimand, the supervisor’s case recommendations “will be monitored closely” for the next year.

Chelsea Adams, a social service case manager with seven years of DFCS experience, received a “memorandum of concern and expectations” on Dec. 9. She reportedly received the Emani Moss case in in 2012 after a teacher reported that the girl stated she had been hit three times “for eating breakfast too slowly.”

According to documents, Adams did note the case’s history — chiefly Tiffany Moss’ 2010 child abuse arrest — but still recommended the new report be screened out. At the time, Tiffany Moss had been ordered to have no unsupervised contact with and administer no physical punishment to Emani.

Two more women, intake supervisor Lori Ann Spears and intake administrator Donna Hanley, have also received reprimands for their roles in handling the Moss case in 2012. According to records, both were reprimanded “for failure to thoroughly review the intake report, family history and assess risk and insure safety.”

Spears played a part in the case as far back as 2008. Hanley, officials said, “had the final responsibility to review the entire case history to insure the decision to screen out was appropriate.”

In the month-plus since her death, Emani Moss’ grandmother has announced plans to file a lawsuit against the state. Attempts to reach her attorneys for updates were unsuccessful.

Emani’s parents, Tiffany and Eman, remain in the Gwinnett County jail charged with murder. Tiffany Moss has a bond hearing, previously scheduled for last week, slated for Jan. 17.

Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said this week he is still weighing whether or not to bring the death penalty against the couple.