After a lengthy meeting this morning, the Durham Social Services board voted to unseal minutes from a July 27 closed session during which they agreed to appoint Gail Perry as the interim director of Durham County Social Services.
The minutes—a brief few paragraphs—reflect that members of the board nominated three different people to replace Gerri Robinson, the former director of social services for Durham County. Robinson had been fired earlier in the meeting.
According to the minutes, former board member Carolyn Carver-Tann nominated former board member Gloria Green. Current board Chairman Stan Holt nominated Toni Pedroza, who at the time was a former employee of the social services department. And County Commissioner Joe Bowser, who is also on the DSS board, nominated Perry.
In a 2-to-1 vote, the board appointed Perry, the minutes show. Perry recused herself from voting on the matter.
The details of the vote had been questioned by the public, elected leaders and the media. Perry's appointment was controversial because she had just been appointed as a representative on the board, and the July 27 meeting was her first meeting.
In a closed session during that meeting, board members voted to fire Robinson. Minutes from that closed session remain sealed. Although it's known that Perry was part of a 3-1 vote to fire Robinson, it's unclear what discussion and any questions board members may have settled before they voted.
The Indy, as well as other media, had requested that the minutes from the closed session be unsealed under state law, which allows government entities to release personnel information if it is "essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of county services or to maintaining the level and quality of county services."
To date, the DSS board has considered releasing two sets of closed session minutes from July 27, and one set of closed session minutes from Sept. 1. So far, only the closed session minutes of Perry's appointment have been released.
The Board of County Commissioners have hired a New Bern attorney, Jimmie Hicks Jr., to investigate several questions surrounding Robinson's firing and Perry's hiring, including whether Perry should have abstained from voting to terminate Robinson.
It was unclear Wednesday when Hicks' report would be complete.