The Office of Juvenile Justice’s investigation into former Jetson Center for Youth Director Daron Brown is complete and found Brown did nothing wrong when he allegedly chased a vehicle he believed was carrying two juveniles who escaped from the secure-care facility.
OJJ spokeswoman Jerel Giarrusso said Brown did not violate any agency policies and was not disciplined as a result of the alleged chase.
The investigator looking into the incident found that “Brown was following a lead and believed he was chasing the escaped youth,” Giarrusso said.
Giarrusso would not say whether the investigation determined whether Brown actually chased the youths. When The Advocate asked to review the investigative file, she said the final report is not yet available.
Brown was put on administrative leave July 7 after he claimed to have pursued a vehicle he believed was carrying two juveniles who escaped from Jetson earlier that month.
Law enforcement representatives from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Baton Rouge Police Department, Kenner Police Department and State Police have all said they never located the pursuit and were never notified by other drivers about the chase, which allegedly occurred on July 6 and spanned Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge to Kenner.
It is unclear whether the alleged chase had anything to do with Brown’s Aug. 3 decision to retire from the director position he’s held at Jetson for the past four years.
A letter Brown wrote to OJJ Deputy Secretary Mary Livers that day informs her of his decision to retire but does not state a reason. When reached on his cellphone late that evening, Brown said he retired for “no reason” and referred all other questions to Giarrusso.
Giarrusso said Brown’s letter speaks for itself and that OJJ “can’t speculate as to reasons” why Brown retired.
Brown’s retirement is effective Wednesday, Giarrusso said. He is taking compensatory leave until then.
A separate investigation into two of Jetson’s juvenile justice specialists also is complete and found the employees “violated agency rules regarding youth supervision” when the youths Brown allegedly chased escaped from the facility on July 3, Giarrusso said.
Livers has said the investigation determined the employees “failed to adequately observe” Demonte Washington, 15, and Clarence McWilliams, 18, in the center’s recreation yard.
As a result, one of the teens removed part of the exterior fence surrounding Jetson and slithered under it, Livers said. The other teen scaled the top of the fence, which is lined with razor wire.
Authorities found Washington and McWilliams four days later in a house in the 1000 block of America Street.
The juvenile justice specialists are on administrative leave and have not yet been disciplined, Giarrusso said.