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Former Swain DSS director appeals firing but loses

The former head of Swain County’s Department of Social Services won’t be getting her job back, members of the county’s DSS board decided in a called meeting on Monday.

The board had dismissed Cagle following a hearing last month, but she launched an appeal attempting to be reinstalled in the position.

The appeal triggered a second hearing before the board, where Cagle was allowed to plead her case again in closed session.

Now that the board has again voted to uphold her dismissal, Cagle has one final recourse, to appeal to the N.C. Office of State Personnel.

She was dismissed in the wake of a scandal sparked by the death of 15-month-old Aubrey Littlejohn who died in January. The State Bureau of Investigation is investigating an alleged cover-up at the agency. A social worker claimed he had been directed by superiors to falsify records following the baby’s death.

However, Cagle was fired for reasons unrelated to that case. Reasons cited were insubordination and “conduct unbecoming of a state employee.”

Interim Director Jerry Smith, who came to the job from Brevard, will stay until a permanent replacement is found.

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