Jean Letcher, longtime manager of the Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter, has been dismissed from her job.
The city of Tulsa declined to comment on the firing, but a final disciplinary report obtained by the Tulsa World through the state Open Records Act shows she was terminated May 20 for failing multiple times to follow city policies and provide proper supervision of employees.
Letcher was cited for not implementing recommendations from a 2018 report regarding the handling and supervision of controlled substances.
“The failure to implement suggestions was found in an investigation of a December 2019 incident where a former employee took home vials of another controlled substance,” the report states. “The investigation into the December 2019 incident showed there was no oversight of employees regarding the proper reporting and recording of drug usage which allowed an employee to remove drugs from Tulsa Animal Shelter.”
The investigation also found that several employees lacked proper certification and that it was questionable whether the shelter met the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s standards for storing and dispensing controlled substances, according to the report.
“Finally, there was no documentation that the supervisor in this area was ever reviewed as to the fulfillment of her assigned duties in this area,” the report states.
Letcher also violated city work rules when she failed to report an August 2019 incident to proper authorities and to get a full accounting from witnesses of what occurred, according to the report. The report provides no details of the incident.
By continually failing to manage staff, administer policies and ensure accountability, the report states, Letcher undermined the mission of the city.
Letcher did not respond to a request for comment from the Tulsa World.
In a Facebook message posted Thursday night, Letcher spoke proudly of what she and her staff accomplished during her 12 years as shelter manager.
“Unless you worked at TAW you don’t know how much inadequate support, lack of funding and unfair social media attacks beat you down,” she wrote.
Letcher credited local and national rescue groups with having helped the shelter make the progress it has.
“And to the haters, time to go hate on someone else,” she wrote.
Tulsa has a real problem, she wrote near the end of the post, “I hope whoever or whatever takes over that work gets more support and more funding than I did.”
No interim shelter manager has been named.
The termination comes in the midst of an overhaul of the city’s animal welfare program.
Mayor G.T. Bynum introduced in 2018 a comprehensive plan to address the concerns of local animal advocates. Since then, the city has hired more employees, extended hours at the shelter, made animal welfare officers available seven days a week and allocated more than $4 million for a comprehensive remodel of the shelter.
The mayor also established a commission that has been holding public meetings as part of its charge to update the city’s animal welfare ordinance.
Earlier this year, the city announced plans to seek proposals from outside entities to operate the animal shelter. The city’s Animal Welfare staff was given the opportunity to submit a proposal.
The mayor’s chief of staff, Jack Blair, said Thursday that the panel reviewing applications plans to present its recommendation to the mayor in the next few days.
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