Avery Niles said Thursday he submitted his resignation as commissioner of the state Department of Juvenile Justice because he had become distraction for the department, but the resignation was not accepted, and he was fired Wednesday morning.
In a statement to AccessWDUN, Niles said his resignation was first accepted, but officials changed their minds and released him.
“I really appreciate the opportunities that I was given,” Niles said. “The process in how all this happened is unsettling. There are a lot of great employees at DJJ that we will miss.”
Niles, who is from Gainesville, was appointed the agency's commissioner in 2012 by then-Gov. Nathan Deal.
Glenn Allen, public information officer for the agency, confirmed the information by phone Wednesday, saying that he could "only confirm (Niles) is no longer Commissioner of DJJ."
Later in the day, the department issued a statement, saying in part, “Commissioner Avery Niles submitted his resignation to the board of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, effective September 1. Following an executive session, the Board voted not to accept the resignation and voted to remove him from the position of commissioner, effective immediately. Gov. Brian P. Kemp has approved the board’s decision."
No official reason was given for Niles’ departure. But the action came about two weeks after an investigation by an Atlanta TV station found Niles lied under oath in a deposition about his educational background. According to 11Alive, the deposition was required as part of a lawsuit pending against the department.
In the March deposition, Niles admitted that he lied during a previous deposition about having a college degree. During the earlier deposition in 2017, Niles tells an attorney, “I have an associate degree …. in criminal justice,” the station reported, quoting the transcript of the deposition. Niles now says that isn’t true, the station reported.
As commissioner, Niles oversaw the detention and rehabilitation of Georgia's juvenile criminal justice system.
“I have given this state all my energy and driven over 300,000 miles in trying to make a difference in so many young people’s lives,” Niles said in his statement to AccessWDUN. “I appreciate Gov. Kemp and thank him for the opportunity to serve.”