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OnTrack director placed on leave

OnTrack Inc. Executive Director Rita Sullivan has been placed on leave amid an internal investigation into allegations that an unspecified member or members of the drug and alcohol treatment program's management have "inappropriately interacted" with some staff members.

In an undated letter disseminated to OnTrack staff, Jim Maize, president of OnTrack's board of directors, announced Sullivan's leave with few details but stressed the program's strict "anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies."

The letter, which was obtained Monday evening by the Mail Tribune, also said leaders of the Medford-based nonprofit intend to set up avenues for employees to register anonymous employment-related complaints that will be investigated by a third party. 

"We are committed to maintaining a work environment free of inappropriate or disrespectful behavior or conduct," Maize said in the letter.

Sullivan did not immediately return a telephone call Monday night seeking comment.

Rick Nagel, who along with fellow former OnTrack board member Tonia Moro have taken over administrative and supervisory duties during Sullivan's absence, said the private investigator who conducted the probe was hired by OnTrack but he declined to say whether it was ordered by the board.

Nagel declined to reveal the nature or number of complaints that led to the investigation and the number of managers who were investigated, but "it's definitely not wide-ranging," he said.

With a staff of about 160 in several facilities, OnTrack has experienced "tremendous growth" in recent years, and the growth has given the board cause to look at its managerial structure, Nagel said. The nonprofit now plans to conduct an operational audit "to see where we might improve" in that structure, he said.

Nagel said the leave was not associated with any investigation by a public agency and that OnTrack's own investigation has been going on for "two or three months."

On Sept. 26, the Oregon Department of Health and Human Services Public Affairs Director Gene Evans confirmed to the Mail Tribune that its Child Welfare division planned to conduct a Contract Compliance Review in early October on OnTrack. 

A contract compliance review is a process of determining whether the parties are adhering to the terms and conditions of the contract, Evans wrote in an email. It will include both file reviews and interviews with individuals or groups from both OnTrack and the DHS' Jackson County Child Welfare, the email stated.

"The review will result in written findings related to compliance and will generate a performance improvement strategy for any area identified as deficient by either OnTrack or the Department," Evans wrote. 

Evans declined to elaborate on any details, including what triggered the DHS review.

OnTrack is licensed by the DHS to provide residential and outpatient addiction treatment and outpatient mental health services.

Moro and Nagel, who met with staff today, will run the operation "during the next several weeks" of Sullivan's leave and Maize's letter to OnTrack employees admonished them not to discuss the matter. It also directed any inquiries to Nagel.

Nagel praised Sullivan for her work building OnTrack and its services, and that "she deserves a rest," he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Rita Sullivan