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Advocate file photo by Heidi Kinchen -- Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center (between Robert and Goodbee on U.S. 190)

The Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center must find a new executive director after the man who filled that role for more than a decade left the job this week.

Tom Jarlock, whose last day at the center was Thursday, said he resigned to accept another position elsewhere, which he declined to discuss.

“I had an opportunity to do something that’s more interesting to me, and I’ve been here a very long time,” Jarlock said. He has served as the facility’s executive director since 2004.

The Florida Parishes Juvenile Justice Commission, which oversees the detention center, has appointed Donald Washington, the center’s director of clinical services, as interim executive director until the commission hires a permanent replacement.

The detention center serves Livingston, Tangipahoa, St. Helena, St. Tammany and Washington parishes.

Jarlock formally submitted his resignation on Sept. 25, four months before his contract was set to expire and amid his annual review process.

The resignation also comes in the midst of a bevy of employee complaints of discrimination and retaliation at the center, although Jarlock stressed that his leaving was not related to any controversy.

Commission attorney John Feduccia said Friday that the committee appointed in May to review Jarlock’s performance had not gotten around to doing so, “maybe because he and they had decided to part ways.”

Feduccia praised Jarlock’s work as executive director and said the commission may have difficulty finding a replacement.

“Hopefully we can find somebody with his experience and qualifications,” Feduccia said. “I would think they’d love to get someone in the next 90 days, and 60 would be even better, but it’s a unique position, and to find a qualified person, someone with Mr. Jarlock’s credentials, may take a while.”

Jarlock said Washington’s experience in clinical services will serve him well as interim executive director.

“Don has been in juvenile corrections for over 30 years and has seen more things than I could write about,” Jarlock said. “He will easily continue the work we’ve done with the cognitive behavioral model. He teaches that model (at the detention center), so it will be a natural insertion of leadership, with no void or missteps.”

Jarlock’s resignation is the second among the center’s administrative staff this year.

Former Director of Administration Steven Happel resigned in February or March. Happel, who had overseen the facility’s human resources and payroll since 2008, has declined to discuss the reasons for his resignation. He also declined to discuss a pending lawsuit in which he was named as part of the management group that allegedly retaliated against a payroll clerk for reporting possible mismanagement at the detention center to the state Office of Inspector General.

That lawsuit remains pending in the 21st Judicial District Court in Tangipahoa Parish.

Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.