Politics & Government

State gives no reason for firing commissioner of health agency

The commissioner of the state department that oversees services for Kentuckians with mental illness and disabilities was fired Friday, according to documents released by the state.

Stephen Hall, commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, was given a letter that says his "services as commissioner are no longer needed," effective at the end of business on Friday.

The letter, which cited no cause for Hall's termination, said he could not appeal the decision to the Kentucky Personnel Board. Hall was a political appointee, which means he served at the pleasure of Gov. Steve Beshear.

Officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees the behavioral health department, declined to comment Friday on why Hall was dismissed.

Hall was appointed by Beshear to the position in 2009. Before being named commissioner, Hall served as director of the Georgia Office of Developmental Disabilities, a position he had held since 2005.

On Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Audrey Tayse Haynes named Betsy Dunnigan, the deputy commissioner of the department and a longtime cabinet employee, acting commissioner. The department has more than 3,000 employees and runs the state's psychiatric hospitals and several facilities for the developmentally disabled.

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