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DCF Panel Member Questions Psychologist’s Report On Nubia

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Barahona Coverage

MIAMI (CBS4) – A panel member investigating the failings in DCF’s handling of the Barahona case said Thursday that the delays in getting a psychological evaluation of Nubia Barahona “appears inexcusable.”

The report from Roberto Martinez, contained his preliminary findings.

Martinez said that the report from psychologist Dr. Vanessa L. Archer should have had the reliability questioned because Archer didn’t consider information presented by Nubia’s principal or teacher. Martinez said someone along the line, including the judge, should have taken “steps to rectify that critical flaw in her report.”

The preliminary findings also stated that there was no system in place to ensure that “critical information was disseminated to and examined by the psychologist, and that participants informed about the particulars of the case followed-through in reviewing the evaluation.”

Martinez also said the fact that it took over five months to perform the psychological evaluation ordered by the judge in the case, “appears inexcusable in light of the fact that it was compelled by the very serious concerns raised by the principal and teacher at the children’s schools about the safety of Nubia and Victor in their foster home.”

The preliminary findings said approximately eleven months passed between the date of the first reports about Nubia and Dr. Archer’s report recommending the children be adopted by the Barahonas.

Martinez’s laid out the details of how the system failed Nubia from the time of the first report to DCF of possible abuse, to the time when a psychologist gave her okay to finalize the adoption of Nubia by Carmen and Jorge Barahona.

Martinez said the first reports came in on March 20, 2007. In August 2007, the teachers and the principal of Royal Palm Elementary were called into court to testify about the conditions they saw Nubia in.

The judge in the August 2007 hearing ordered a psychological and psycho-educational assessment and report on Nubia. Martinez said that the transcripts or recordings of the August 2007 hearing need to be fully examined to understand the court’s ultimate decision on “the appropriateness of placement.”

Martinez said it wasn’t until February 15, 2008 that Dr. Vanessa L. Archer issued her final report on the psychological evaluation of Nubia and Victor Barahona. Dr. Archer’s report stated that the Barahona’s adoption of Nubia and Victor should be “allowed to proceed with no further delay.”

Martinez questioned why Dr. Archer’s report “makes no mention at all of the reports from the principal or teacher, nor does it contain any information whatsoever from Nubia’s teachers or schools.” Those details were left out despite the fact that those reports sparked the psychological examinations.

Dr. Archer’s report, Martinez found, also stated that both children are “excelling academically.” However, according to Martinez, Archer didn’t attribute the source of the statement, nor made any effort to verify the statement “from an obvious source, namely, Nubia’s school, who according to the reports presented to the Panel would state that Nubia was performing very poorly in school.”

Martinez said that the Secretary of DCF may need to get the proper releases or court orders that would compel Dr. Archer to testify before the panel.

All of this led to a few questions and recommendations from Martinez.

  • First, Martinez wanted to know how no one involved in the case could “identify the glaring omission in Dr. Archer’s report: namely that Dr. Archer either totally ignored the reports from the schools or had not been provided with that critical information.”
  • Second, Martinez suggested a review of Dr. Archer’s report be conducted by an impartial panel of psychologists to find out why it appears that she limited “the source of her information about the background of the children contained in her evaluation, as reflected in her report, to the foster mother.”
  • Third, Martinez wants to know why it took over five months to perform the court-ordered psychological evaluation. And finally, the report asks whether Dr. Archer asked why the court had ordered the psychological evaluations.

The panel will meet twice more next week and is expected to release a report of its findings and recommendations March 11th, nearly one month after Nubia’s body was found stuffed in plastic bags in the back of Jorge Barahona’s pesticide truck.

Her brother Victor was in the front seat doused in a toxic chemical. He was released from the hospital Tuesday night and placed in an undisclosed therapeutic foster home.

Jorge Barahona has pleaded not guilty to the attempted first-degree murder of the boy. No one has been charged in Nubia’s death, but authorities have been investigating the couple’s Southwest Miami-Dade home as a crime scene.

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