Baker gets vote of confidence

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

By Jamie C. Ruff

The embattled head of Crossroads Community Services Board got a vote of confidence from the organization’s board of directors who said her contract will be renewed in July.

Board Chairman Sid Smyth released the statement on March 23 — the morning after the board’s meeting — stating that Dr. Susan Baker would be retained.

“The Crossroads Board made the decision in last night’s meeting that it would honor the current employment agreement with Dr. Baker and the automatic, annual renewal clause of her employment contract with the organization with a renewal date of July 1, 2016,” the statement read.

Baker told The Gazette that she was very pleased with the board’s support “and I look forward to moving Crossroads forward.”

It ended with Smyth noting that “the board has no additional comments at this time.”

Board members hope this will end a months-old flap. Baker dismissed four people shortly after she arrived at the organization. Since then the former workers — and some current employees — have pushed for their rehiring, and for Baker’s dismissal.

Baker said the dismissals were a “reduction in force,” but the former employees said they were dismissed for challenging some of Baker’s decisions.

One employee complained that productivity had decreased, job responsibilities and performance expectations were unclear and “the work environment is chaotic, toxic and hostile.”

Crossroads officials have been reluctant to comment because of the investigation.

The terminations prompted an investigation by a state agency that began Jan. 21, and ended in February with the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) saying Baker violated a state regulation by failing to notify the office about the implementing changes in the organization’s structure.

Organized in 1973, Crossroads seeks to prevent and treat the occurrence of mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance use and co-occurring disorders.

Crossroads’ board of directors consists of representatives appointed by boards of supervisors in Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties.