MONTPELIER, Vermont — A Burlington pediatrician will chair an independent panel that will investigate the state's role leading up to the death of a 2-year-old Poultney girl, the administration of Gov. Peter Shumlin said Friday.
The toddler, Dezirae Sheldon, died last week of severe head injuries. Her stepfather, Dennis Duby, has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree murder charge. The girl's mother, Sandra Eastman, was convicted last year of child cruelty.
Shumlin's office said Friday that no state employees will be included on the Citizens Advisory Board, which will be headed by Burlington pediatrician Joseph Hagan, and include volunteer members with expertise in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.
Shumlin asked for the investigation.
The Agency of Human Services is also conducting its own review and the state Senate will start its own investigation into general child protection issues next month.
"As an agency, this tragic situation hits at the heart of the work we do on behalf of children and families," said Human Services Secretary Doug Racine. "We are taking the review process extremely seriously and anticipate getting the results as quickly as possible."