Melissa Stone, a lawyer and current interim director of the state Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, has been chosen by the Board that oversees the division to become the permanent director.
She became assistant director in 2014 and took over interim leadership three months ago when James Brader took a private sector job. The board voted unanimously for Stone at a meeting Thursday and, according to a news release, Chair Darrell Pickney praised her as “very professional, very dedicated.” From the release:
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“I appreciate the opportunity to serve Arkansas families who have a loved one with a developmental or intellectual disability,” Stone said Thursday. “It’s important that the state support these families and provide them with an array of options, from human development centers to services in their homes and communities.”
… Stone, 37, received a Bachelor’s of Arts and Science in English from the University of Arkansas in 2001 and her juris doctorate from the William H. Bowen School of Law in 2005. In October of that year, she began working as a DHS assistant deputy counsel handling child welfare and adult abuse and neglect cases. Two years later, she was promoted to a deputy counsel position, which she stayed in for almost two years before leaving for private practice. She returned to DHS in July 2013 to serve as a managing attorney.
The division yesterday was dealing with a long-running issue, use of restraints at its Boonveville facility. A disability rights group said restraints are used too often. The state has said it is improving practices there and is committed to review the issue further, but says that residents with multiple problems sometimes present situations that require use of restraints.