TRAVERSE CITY (AP) – A board overseeing a mental health organization that serves several counties in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula has decided not to discipline its top official after a finding from the state that profoundly disabled adults were put at risk during bus rides.

The Northern Lakes Community Mental Health board on Thursday made the decision, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports. The board will send information to the state Department of Community Mental Health for examination and reconsideration

At the meeting, Northern Lakes CEO Gregory Paffhouse read from a document outlining actions he and his staff took to protect the agency’s bus riders after an August 2011 assault.

Officials said one client repeatedly beat and choked another during a 90-minute ride.

“Northern Lakes immediately responded,” Paffhouse said.

Paffhouse said he disagrees with the state’s conclusions that place him at fault for putting clients at risk of harm. The Feb. 20 state report said Paffhouse failed to follow the “standard of care” when informed of the urgent need for staff supervision on buses.

The beating prompted an investigation that found that 67 vulnerable clients rode buses without supervision, despite diagnoses ranging from profound cognitive impairment, serious medical conditions, and mental illness, including some riders with a known history of violent behavior.

Northern Lakes provides services in Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon and Wexford counties. It pays the Bay Area Transportation Authority to transport developmentally disabled clients to and from training and work sites.

About two dozen incidents of assault, self-harm and inappropriate sexual behavior were found during an 18-month span on contracted BATA buses, officials found.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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