Columbia, SC (WLTX) - South Carolina Department of Social Services Director Lillian Koller has resigned amid continuing concerns about the agency that she ran.
Koller submitted her letter of resignation to Governor Nikki Haley Monday morning, and Haley accepted. In the letter, she said she felt her continued presence at the agency might be causing problems.
"It has become more and more apparent to me during the past few weeks that my being the State Director is causing a distraction and making it more difficult for DSS to continue the measureable improvements made to the Agency during my tenture that have improved the lives of citizens we serve."
She said it had been a privilege to be the director.
The resignation comes a day before state senators were to discuss a no-confidence vote on Koller.
Koller's agency had come under scrutiny over how it handled cases, including some where children died. One of those was the death of 4-year-old Robert Guinyard, a Richland County boy who died after being given back to his parents. Last week, his parents were convicted of killing the child.
In another case, also out of Richland County, DSS employees were criticized for failing to find a mother who Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says didn't give her child the proper medical care. The coroner concluded the neglect led to the boy's death. In the wake of the incident, DSS changed an agency policy, saying it would request law enforcement help if it couldn't locate a child withing 72 hours on its own.
During a state senate committee hearing looking into allegations within the agency, concerns were also raised about the workload of DSS caseworkers.
Haley had stood by Koller through the criticism, and in a statement after the resignation, praised her work within the agency.
"Lillian Koller is a dedicated public servant and child advocate, and a wonderful and loving mother - and I am so grateful for her service to South Carolina," said Haley. "Under her leadership, DSS closed a $28 million deficit, moved more than 20,000 South Carolinians from welfare-to-work, and has done wonders to improve our foster care system, placing more South Carolina children in stable, healthy families."
Koller had been director since 2011. Amber Gillum will served as the interim director until a permanent appointment is made.