The newly minted state commissioner of the Department of Children Services is reversing a move made by his predecessor by hiring back a top employee recently shed from the department.
Acting Commissioner Jim Henry has rehired Debbie Miller, formerly the agency’s executive director of family and child well-being. Miller returned Monday, said Molly Sudderth, spokeswoman for DCS.
“The department had a recent vacancy and Commissioner Henry asked Ms. Miller to return. He has known her work for many years and respects her skills and experience in the area of child welfare,” Sudderth said.
“She is part of the department’s leadership team and is currently helping in an area where the department has a recent vacancy,” she added, noting Miller is now working in the area of independent living.
Former Commissioner Kathryn O’Day removed Miller from the department in early January after months of the department coming under fire from media outlets, led by The Tennessean, seeking access to files detailing circumstances of deaths of children who had been in contact with the department.
A spokeswoman at the time said Miller’s position was eliminated due to restructuring. The firing came the same day the department was in court about access to the records.
The media coalition and the state are still fighting the issue in court, namely focused on how much the state should charge for access to the records originally quoted at $55,000.
Prior to working for DCS, Miller came to the agency with three decades of work in public policy and children’s welfare. Upon Miller’s return, she is collecting the same $90,000-per-year salary she was receiving before her position was eliminated.
Miller is also the wife of former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell.