The controversy surrounding CASA for Kids of East Texas took another turn Wednesday.
321st State District Judge Carole Clark issued an order ending CASA's work in her courtroom. CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, represent abused children who are involved in the court system.
About two weeks ago CASA fired its Executive Director Reggie Durch for what the organization described as "personal" reasons. Judge Clark, who hears most family law cases in Smith County, refused to say why she ended her working relationship with CASA, but she says the board of the non-profit agency does know her concerns.
"There has been several board meetings and a lot of conversations the last two weeks and I think that CASA will do the right thing," Judge Clark said at a Tyler news conference.
Judge Clark said she would assume the role of CASA and appoint volunteers for children as well as sit in judgement in their cases. She has also asked CASA of Texas to audit the local organization. Casa for Kids of East Texas Board President John Carr says he was shocked to learn of the judges order. He has called a special meeting of the board for Friday. In the meantime, Carr says CASA will continue to serve children in Wood and Van Zandt counties as well as children in Judge Floyd Getz's court in Smith County.
United Way of Tyler is one of the many organizations that contributes to CASA. This year United Way dedicated $30,750 for CASA. United Way Executive Director Jason Holmes says the United Way will be looking into the operation at CASA to determine if they should continue to fund the non-profit. Holmes says United Ways first concern will be the children CASA serves.