County DSS fires Larson

Nov. 23, 2013 @ 02:58 PM

Wanda Sue Larson was fired from the Union County Department of Social Services Friday. 

Larson, 57, was arrested last week after a child in her guardianship was found handcuffed to the porch with a dead chicken tied around his neck. Her long-time partner, Dorian Lee Harper, was also arrested. Harper has been placed on administrative leave from Carolinas Medical Center-Union. 

Larson's four adopted children and the child in her guardianship are currently under the care of Davidson County DSS, The Charlotte Observer reporter. Around 100 animals were also removed from the property, many of them have been placed with animal rescue organizations. 

Larson was hired March 31, 2003. Her title at the time of her termination was child protective services supervisor–investigative unit and her salary was $54,577. 

The letter from Richard Matens, human services executive director, states that the findings of their information-gathering include issues of unacceptable personal conduct and grossly inefficient job performance. The letter cited conduct unbecoming an employee that is detrimental to the agency's service and gross oversight in performance of duties as a social work supervisor in the child protective services unit, including failure to follow appropriate protocol int he discharge of your duties. 

"You were entrusted with the responsibility as a social work supervisor in the child protective services unit to protect and serve as the impartial party in reviewing confidential and sensitive cases regarding children," Matens wrote in the letter. "The conditions uncovered in your own home, for your adoptive children and the child for whom you had guardianship, are appalling. You had a responsibility in your official capacity to ensure that children are not subjected to such conditions, and you would have had a duty to initiate a report and investigation had you observed children in such conditions in another home." 

Matens also wrote that her actions represent a blatant disregard for the ethical conduct and sound judgment vital to her position and her credibility as a social worker has been "irreparably damaged." 

Larson received 10 salary increases in her ten years with the department, most recently a $1,890 increase in July of 2012. 

According to documents released by the county, she had been placed on disciplinary suspension on May 29, 2012. 

Larson has the right to appeal the termination within 10 working days of receiving the notice, according to Union County personnel rules. 

Larson and Harper are in the Union County Jail with bonds of $520,000 and $500,000. Their next court appearance is Jan. 7.