MCHA Board Calls Special Meeting Following Suspension of Executive Director

By Benjamin Cox on February 2, 2021 at 8:48am

The Morgan County Housing Authority Board of Commissioners are going to deal with a major personnel issue this afternoon for its first meeting of the month of February.

In documents provided to WLDS News, the Morgan County Housing Authority Board had suspended the Housing Authority Executive Director Debra Walters on January 14th for alleged misconduct for 5 days without pay.

In a letter dated January 25th by Housing Authority Finance Director and Human Resources representative Mary Jo Mast to the Housing Authority Board, Mast indicates that the board may have not followed proper Housing Authority personnel policy and Illinois law when it came to the process of Walters’ suspension.

According to the Housing Authority Personnel Policy Manual that was approved in December 2019, employees who are suspended are done so without pay and can only be suspended up to 3 days without written notice being given by the Board for an extension. Mast inidcates in her letter to the board that Walters was still paid her bi-weekly amount and was allowed to maintain her Executive Director duties during her suspension.

Housing Authority employees are governed by Illinois law as public sector employees and the Housing Authority Board is subject to action by the Morgan County Commissioners. Mast also indicates in her letter that a due process hearing pertaining to Walters’ suspension was never held, and Walters was never given information by the Board about the charges, testimony, or information levied against her.

The board is expected to take action on these personnel issues during executive session this afternoon at 3PM. Members of the public may attend the meeting via webex with code 182 464 3831 with password 1234.

Walters was appointed to the Executive Director position in March 2019, replacing interim director Fred Clinton. The housing authority manages 410 public housing units in Jacksonville and 160 Section 8 vouchers funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as Morgan County Civic Services’ 40 units in Murrayville and Meredosia, five houses in Jacksonville and South Jacksonville, and 44 tax credit units.