Roderick “RJ” Arrington’s beating death came just one day after a school worker notified the county’s child abuse hotline with concerns in a call placed November 2012. But the county hotline worker involved didn’t send a child welfare investigator to respond before the boy died, according to county and police records.
The hotline operator assigned the call as needing a response within 24 hours, the second highest level on a three-tiered structure. If the call had received a top priority, it would have required a response within three hours.
County spokesman Erik Pappa said the county had no comment on the settlement agreement.
The settlement faces a vote Tuesday by the County Commission, with a recommendation from county staff to approve it.
Roderick Arrington Sr., RJ’s father, sued the county in February 2013 in connection with his son’s death. His attorney, Matthew Callister, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.
The hotline got a call from a staffer at Roundy Elementary School, which RJ attended. The school employee reported that the boy walked as if he were in physical pain and had extensive scarring on his back, arbitration documents said.
RJ told the school worker he was beaten on the back and the butt with television cords, broom handles, spatulas and a belt when he got into trouble with his mother and stepfather.
The caller from the school didn’t want to look at the boy’s buttocks for signs of abuse, and asked for an investigator to check out the situation.
After school, RJ returned home and was beaten with a belt on his buttocks by his stepfather and mother, who were charged and convicted in the case.
County administrators in December 2012 fired Jadon Davis, the hotline worker who handled the call, saying he should have assigned it a higher priority. But when Davis appealed his termination, an arbitrator ordered the county to reinstate him and found that Davis followed policies.
The arbitrator found fault with the county’s hotline policy guidance, saying it “leaves a chasm” between two extremes that require either a three-hour response, or a response within 72 hours. The hotline has three priority codes. The call about RJ was assigned a 24-hour response, called Priority 2.
Davis no longer works at the county.
County officials have called the hotline policies sound and disagreed with the arbitrator’s finding.
RJ’s mother, Dina Palmer, was sentenced in December to 16 to 40 years in prison for two counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily harm for her role in the beatings.
The stepfather, Markiece Palmer, was sentenced in January to life in prison without parole after his conviction of first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse in connection with the death.
Contact Ben Botkin at email@example.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.