Four county Department of Child and Family Services employees will be fired over their involvement in the case of Gabriel Fernandez, the 8-year-old Palmdale boy who died in May, after allegedly being tortured by his mother's live-in boyfriend.
According to a statement from County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, the four include two social workers and two supervisors. Three others involved in evaluating multiple reports of abuse of Fernandez were issued warning or reprimand letters.
Antonovich, whose district includes Palmdale and had called for the investigation into the circumstances of DCFS' handling of the Fernandez case, hailed the decision.
"It is vital that those working in the child protection system remain vigilant to ensure the safety and well-being of those in the county's care," he said in a statement.
The department did not immediately return calls seeking comment. All four employees have been on desk duty since Fernandez died in May.
DCFS records showed that there had been five previous reports of abuse of the little boy, but that social workers had deemed them "unfounded." A sixth case was being investigated at the time of his death.
Fernandez was found with his skull fractured, broken ribs, bruising and cigarette burns all over his body on May 22, after social workers were called to his home. His mother's boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 32, admitted that he injured the boy, authorities said. Fernandez's mother, Pearl Fernandez, said she was in the house while it happened and did nothing to defend the boy.
Both have been charged with capital murder with a special circumstance of torture.
County Chief Executive Bill Fujioka tweeted the announcement Tuesday afternoon and Antonovich discussed the move during a Board of Supervisors meeting.
Both said the move came at the direction of DCFS Director Philip Browning.
In June, the Board of Supervisors voted to establish a blue-ribbon commission to examine how DCFS evaluates reports of abuse. The commission is supposed to meet for the first time this week.
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