By Louie Graves
The veteran administrator at the Howard County Children’s Center has been placed on paid administrative leave while a Little Rock law firm investigates personnel complaints at the center.
Tim Freel, administrator for 14 years, was placed on leave at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday, April 10. At a called meeting on Thursday, April 19, the HCCC board voted to retain the firm of Friday, Eldredge and Clark to investigate.
Board chairman Donny Woods told the newspaper that stories about financial irregularities, Medicare irregularities or problems with clients were “absolutely false.”
He said there had been some complaints and the board felt they needed to be addressed. Further, he said, the board wanted a third party to investigate, and felt the center’s employees would feel more free to talk to the investigator if Freel were on administrative leave.
Woods praised Freel for the job he has done “growing” the facility and providing services for developmentally disabled children and adults.
“This is a very important institution to our community. We have 100-plus employees and an annual budget of $2 million.”
Contacted by the News-Leader, Freel declined comment except to say “In my nearly 19 years at the Center, the health, safety and well-being of the clients has always been number one to me.”