County signs accord with DSS director

Published 1:50 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

By Staff
James Harriet resigns in exchange for severance pay
Staff Writer
James P. Harriett, formerly the county’s director of social services, will receive $34,776 in severance pay, according to a separation agreement signed Tuesday by the chairwoman of the board of directors of the Beaufort County Department of Social Services,
In exchange, Harriet agreed to resign effective March 26. He had been separated from the county since November 2008.
When asked if there were specific issues that led to Harriet’s separation, County Manager Paul Spruill responded that most executives — including Spruill himself — can be fired by county boards for a wide variety of reasons. Others, he said, including directors of social services, are protected by state law.
He listed “philosophy about the job in general” as one such issue.
According to a state manual on the State Personnel Act, the only reasons protected employees can be fired are “unsatisfactory job performance, including grossly inefficient job performance, and unacceptable personal conduct.”
Harriet started working for county social services on Feb. 10, 1994. He became director on Feb. 1., 2002.
None of the board members who voted to appoint him is still on the board.
And while Spruill couldn’t comment on the specific circumstances of Harriet’s departure, he seemed upbeat about Harriet’s future interactions with the county.