DCFS official to address Lancaster council in child's death

A senior member of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is scheduled to address the Lancaster City Council on Tuesday night regarding the alleged torture death of an 8-year-old boy in neighboring Palmdale.

Lancaster officials said Mayor R. Rex Parris called for the session with a children's services representative to hear what steps the department is taking to avoid future such tragedies.

"I would like DCFS to report to us regarding what they are doing to make certain what occurred in Palmdale does not happen again to one of our children," Parris said in a statement released by his city.

Parris called for the session after the death of Gabriel Fernandez.  Paramedics were summoned to his home on the evening of May 22 and found him barely breathing and suffering numerous injuries, including a fractured skull, several broken ribs and burns.  The child died in the hospital two days later and his mother and her boyfriend were arrested and charged with murder and torture.

Four children's services workers were placed on desk duty and county officials launched an investigation over the department's handling of several abuse complaints leading up to Gabriel's death.

Social workers appeared to miss numerous warning signs at the home, according to the county documents. Los Angeles County's Department of Children and Family Services left Gabriel in the home despite six investigations into abuse allegations involving the mother over the last decade.

His teacher told authorities he often appeared bruised and battered at school.

"The red flags were all over the place. They were ignored. It is just inexplicable to me,"  county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told The Times after Gabriel's death.

Tuesday's fact-finding session will begin at 5 p.m. in the council chambers of Lancaster City Hall, 44933 Fern Ave.


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