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Assessment: No toxic work environment at Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services

Danville Register & Bee - 6/26/2018

CHATHAM - After a presentation of the Virginia Department of Social Services' assessment Monday evening, the Pittsylvania County Department of Social Services board of directors found February's allegations against the department unsubstantiated.

The two-month long organizational assessment found no evidence of a toxic work environment at the Pittsylvania department, Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Duke Storen reported.

Following the board's announcement, Pittsylvania County Director Sherry Flanagan addressed the public regarding her experience over the past four months since the allegations arose, calling the statements made on social media "defamation" and "public slander."

"Being publicly referred to as an abuser, compared to a donkey and making people wonder what the next episode of 'Sherry shenanigans' was going to be is nothing more than cyberbullying," said the director of nine years.

She added, "This comes at high cost to the staff committed to this county, the morale in this building, and my family."

The Pittsylvania Social Services board requested for the state to conduct an investigation after a letter from board of supervisors chairman Bob Warren on Feb. 20.

The letter stated a board member was approached by current and former employees with complaints of workplace harassment, intimidation, lack of proper personnel policies and age discrimination.

Storen said, "Anything that erodes the public trust to me is something that needs to be addressed right away."

The commissioner said there were areas of performance that needed improvement in the Pittsylvania department, stating the report offered recommendations.

"Our job is to help the local departments do better," he said, adding some aspects showed the department was doing very well and others required attention.

"The truth lies in between," said Storen.

He said he has confidence in the leadership to improve in the areas necessary and push for "continuous change."

At this point, the board of director stated it considers the matter closed.

After thanking the board and state for its work, Flanagan said, "I look forward to what we do in the future together to only make us a better agency for the county we serve and the people we serve."


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