What’s Wrong At the DJFS?

Just two days after accepting the position of director of Belmont County Job and Family Services, John M. Rowan told county commissioners he had changed his mind. Commissioners agreed last week to hire Rowan but on Friday, he told them he was resigning – before officially assuming the post on July 15.

Rowan told commissioners that, “after much personal reflection,” he had decided to remain in his current position as executive director of the Oakview Juvenile Residential Center. He has been in that job for seven years.

Either Rowan realized he was making a personal mistake by accepting the DJFS title or, after doing so, he learned something he had not known previously about the job that persuaded him to reverse course.

If Rowan indeed realized he was simply more comfortable in his current job, good for him for resigning immediately.

But, though he stressed Friday his reversal was not a reflection on commissioners or the DJFS, the circumstances will – and should – raise eyebrows.

Presumably, Rowan and commissioners discussed the DJFS job and the agency’s situation at length before the decision to hire him was made. What, if anything, changed?

It is no secret there has been controversy concerning operations at the agency. Did Rowan learn enough more about that to convince him he would be walking into a hornet’s nest if he went ahead with the DJFS job?

Members of the public seldom get answers to similar questions in situations such as that involving the DJFS. No one wants to get into a nasty controversy.

Again, if Rowan simply changed his mind purely for personal reasons, he is to be commended for doing so now, rather than months or years later.

But if he was scared away by infighting or politics involving the DJFS, the situation needs to be resolved immediately by Belmont County commissioners.