The Petitioner, who was employed as a Social Worker C in the Department of Mental Health, did not meet his burden of proving that his "regular and major duties" required him to have the "care, custody, instruction or other supervision of…persons who are mentally ill or mentally defective." As such, he was appropriately classified in Group 1.
Pursuant to G.L. c. 32, §16(4), the Petitioner, Daniel Wheelan, is appealing from the June 30, 2007 decision of the Respondent, State Board of Retirement (SBR), classifying him in Group 1 for retirement purposes. (Exhibit 1). The appeal was timely filed. (Exhibit 2). The Petitioner elected to waive a hearing. (Exhibit 8). The parties submitted their respective cases on the documents, marked Exhibits 1-8, the last of which was received at the Division of Administrative Law Appeals (DALA) on January 6, 2009, thereby closing the record. An Exhibit List has been included in this Decision at page 4. The SBR also submitted a pre-hearing memorandum. (Attachment A).
FINDINGS OF FACT
Based upon the submissions of the parties, I hereby render the following findings of fact:
1. The Petitioner, Daniel Wheelan, d.o.b. 02/04/45 was employed as a Clinical Social Worker C in the Department of Mental Health from March 9, 1997 through June 30, 2007. He retired on superannuation on June 30, 2007. (Exhibits 4 and 7).
2. As a Clinical Social Worker C, the Petitioner's major duties included providing coordination, clinical supervision, and direct services on the Fall River Child/Adolescent Team. His work involved determinations of eligibility, supervision of case managers, coordinating services for children, consultation with Crisis Intervention Services, clinical coordination with vendors, monitoring of vendor contracts, and clinical consultation with vendor agencies. (Exhibits 6 and 7).
3. The Petitioner's work also included meeting with parents and children to develop mental health treatment plans, provide psycho-education and assess progress toward treatment goals, modify treatment and provide patient education. (Exhibit 2).
4. The Petitioner submitted a Group Classification Questionnaire to the SBR on June 8, 2007. (Exhibit 4).
5. The SBR classified the Petitioner in Group 1 on June 30, 2007. (Exhibit 1).
6. The Petitioner filed a timely appeal. In the last paragraph of his letter of appeal to DALA on July 9, 2007, the Petitioner stated:
In addition, my written progress notes may be found in the medical
records for Corrigan Mental Health Center Medication Clinic patients,
and in DMH's Mental Health Information System's care management
module for DMH-eligible clients. These notes should serve to support
the fact that the above duties were both regular and major.(Exhibit 2.)
The Petitioner is not entitled to prevail in this appeal. He has not met his burden of proving that his regular and major duties require him to have the "care, custody, instruction or other supervision…of persons who are mentally ill or mentally defective." G.L. c. 32, § 3(2)(g).
The Social Worker C position is a supervisory position. The Petitioner coordinates and oversees the clinical team. The mental health clients are juveniles. The Petitioner, according to the evidence he submitted, meets with the juveniles and their parents in order to assess the best course of treatment for them. At these times, the children are in the custody of their parents. When they children are assigned to a clinician, that clinician oversees the direct care of the client. If the Petitioner spends more time with children in a clinical setting on a one on one basis, he did not provide evidence of same and the record does not support this notion. The evidence reflects that the Petitioner's regular and major duties involved providing direct supervision to case managers to ensure agency policies and regulations were being followed, chairing meetings, and providing care coordination for the clients.
The submission of the anonymous list of DMH clients did not enhance the Petitioner's case. There is no indication that the Petitioner actually provided therapy or other direct services to any of the names on the list. There is certainly no indication that his regular and major duties involved the direct care, custody, instruction or supervision of the children who are represented on the list. Finally, it must be noted here that the Petitioner has the burden of proving his case to DALA. His suggestion that DALA or anyone other than him search DMH or MHIS databases is highly inappropriate.
In conclusion, the Petitioner was appropriately classified in Group 1 based upon the overall supervisory and administrative functions of his position. The decision of the SBR is affirmed.
Division of Administrative Law Appeals,
DATED: July 24, 2009
Exhibit No. Document Description
1 - June 30, 2007 letter of decision
2 - July 11, 2007 letter of appeal
3 - December 4m, 2008 letter from Magistrate
4 - June 8, 2008 Group Classification Questionnaire
5 - March 22, 2007 Form 30
6 - April 4, 2006 Form 30
7 - May 24, 2007 retirement application
8 - November 26, 2008 waiver of hearing