O'Day Resigns as Children's Services Commissioner

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Tennessee Children’s Services Commissioner Kate O’Day resigned today just before she was to face questioning from lawmakers about deaths of children under her agency's watch.

“Kate has informed me that she felt the time was right to step down,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “She was concerned that she had become more of a focus than the children the department serves. I appreciate Kate’s service to this administration and to our state. She has done a lot of good work in identifying longstanding problems that have hampered the department, and we will build on those efforts as we move forward.”

O'Day has come under heavy criticism for her agency's care of children. The state Senate Health and Welfare Committee was to hold hearings on the department's operations tomorrow. Some Democrats had called for O'Day's resignation.

In January, Chancery Court Judge Carole McCoy ordered the department to surrender records of more than 200 children who died or nearly died since 2009 after having some contact with the agency. That ruling came in a lawsuit by media outlets to open the records. O'Day became the agency's commissioner in 2011 when Haslam took office.

Update: Rep. Sherry Jones calls O'Day's resignation "long past due." She adds, "There are still many questions that need to be answered about the administration of DCS over the past two years.”

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