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Texas Foster Care and Adoption Services’ executive director steps down

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Paul Flahive | Texas Public Radio
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Texas Foster Care and Adoption Services

The executive director of a San Antonio-based foster placement agency stepped down the day after a story from TPR shined a light on irregularities at the agency that takes about $2 million from the state each year to place vulnerable children in homes.

On September 29th, TPR published a story that Texas Foster Care and Adoption Services kept an executive on staff months after sexual abuse allegations emerged — with some former employees questioning if he had ever been let go.

The following day, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) launched an investigation — and executive director Sheila Perez stepped down.

Despite a child sexual assault investigation, a San Antonio foster executive kept his job at Texas Foster Care & Adoption Services for months.

While TPR’s story focused on the decision to keep Jerry Monroe on as Chief Financial Officer despite allegations he raped his great niece — and further documented another rape claim by his deceased step daughter — it also noted “irregularities” in the organizations tax filings.

Neither Sheila Perez nor was her mother in-law CEO Karen Perez were listed on the nonprofit organization's public tax filing — the IRS form 990. Additionally someone else was listed in Sheila’s position the past several years. An expert said these oversights were akin to listing your dog as a dependent on your personal filing.

“Oversights like that in the form 990 filing are sort of classic indicators of a potential problem,” said Marc Owens, former director of the Exempt Organizations Division at the IRS.

When asked about the issues with the tax filings a week before the story was published, CEO Karen Perez referred TPR to its unnamed lawyers and then hung up. She did not respond to follow-up questions via email.

Sheila Perez notified the state of her decision earlier in the month, according to records from the state — three weeks after TPR asked for the organization’s tax documents.

Sheila told foster families that the agency serves, she was stepping away from day-to-day operations, but would still be involved behind the scenes in the organization, according to an email TPR reviewed.

The Texas Health and Human Commission, which licenses foster placement agencies, launched an investigation late last month into the organization over questions of Monroe’s employment status.

Perez told the state she had fired Monroe December 24, 2020, two days after his arrest for sexual assault of a minor.

Several former Texas Foster Care and Adoption Services employees questioned the timeline, and said Monroe was still advising leadership in 2021.

This is the second time HHSC has launched an investigation into the organization over Monroe’s termination, according to state documents TPR obtained.

In February 2021, HHSC contacted Karen Perez about an allegation that Texas Foster Care and Adoption Services had not reported Monroe’s arrest to state licensors. HHSC found Perez had notified the Department of Family and Protective Services about the arrest and termination — but had not notified HHSC. No citation was given. It isn’t clear who made the initial complaint to the state.

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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive