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MY WORD: There is another side to story of librarian's firing

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By Keri Cinotto

The award-winning youth librarian at the Shelby County Public Library, Sherry Bogard, was dismissed after an unfair board meeting held on June 19, 2012. At this board meeting, Mrs. Sherry, as she is called, was not permitted to state her case or make objections to the charges against her; all but one of the board voted to dismiss Mrs. Sherry based on speculation arising from a single viewpoint. The fact that there was not any kind of due process is among the more disturbing issues; however, there are others.

So many parents with young children and teens in the Shelbyville region are shocked, angry and deeply saddened by Mrs. Sherry’s dismissal. Many parents have been attending her “story hours” for years and have gained a great deal of respect for Mrs. Sherry in that time.

Mrs. Sherry has done more to elevate this community than most other adults because of her diligence, passion, and seemingly endless energy – if education is truly the answer to our nation’s issues, then one needs to look no further for a solution than people like Mrs. Sherry Bogard.

The situation we’re aware of began after several parents heard a “rumor” that Mrs. Sherry was either being dismissed or quitting early in the week; at that time several of us reached out in support of our Mrs. Sherry – we owe that much to our children. 

Mrs. Sherry couldn’t (and wouldn’t) go into detail when asked, but she was adamant that everyone should know that she did not quit; she was asked to leave.

Among the parents, there is no doubt that Mrs. Sherry would never quit on her kids – the love she showed for these children rises above what one would expect from a person simply “doing a job.”

Several of the parents subsequently looked into, and were told of, a board meeting that was going to take place the following day (June 19th), with her “dismissal” being at the top of the agenda.

Myself and another parent attended this board meeting, at which time we were given the opportunity to provide a public statement by library board president William Hudson. We did this, in strong support of Mrs. Sherry.

We were directed to leave the meeting after our statements so that the board could address the full issue at hand. During, and after, our statements, we were told that nodecision or action had been taken at that point because not all of the board members were informed regarding the details of this case (this was, apparently, the basis for calling their meeting).

It was obvious in the meeting that President Hudson was not in favor of immediate dismissal because he made it clear that no action was made thus far and wouldn’t be made until both sides were heard. This is where there is an obvious failing in communication and procedure within the library board.

I arrived at the Shelby County Library 20 minutes before noon that day with all intentions of attending the board meeting. During the time before the meeting, my youngest child wanted to check out a book, which we did, beforethe meeting at 11:46 a.m. (we have our library slip as proof).

The other parent who attended the meeting arrived at this time, and we began commenting on how bare the children’s area looked now that all of Mrs. Sherry’s personal affects, books and stuffed animals (that lined the tops of her shelves) were gone.

There were people (presumably library staff members) carrying out personal items from her office; these items included a Bambi statue and the large stuffed “Clifford” that was in the story-hour room.  We were very sad, as it was quite emotional watching the staff members taking Mrs. Sherry’s personal items to a storage unit near the extra parking garage.

Given the timing of these events, it’s quite obvious that the board had, indeed, made a prior decision regarding Mrs. Sherry’s dismissal and was dishonest regarding the comments made at the board meeting; if no decision had been reached, then why was there a need to remove Mrs. Sherry’s personal items?

It wasn’t until later in the day that we heard the decision to terminate Mrs. Sherry was final (by majority, but not unanimous, rule). The process was (is) so corrupt that it’s almost unforgivable to the taxpayer. Is this the system we support in Shelby County? I think not.

Of note is that Mrs. Sherry was notallowed to speak on her own behalf – the board didn’t feel it was “necessary.” So the only opinion heard was that of the director of the Shelby County Library, who has repeatedly shown a bias against Mrs. Sherry – a bias and dislike that is readily apparent to any regular library patron.

So we face the issue of due process versus corruption; are we, as taxpayers, going to let poor management and a lack of leadership diminish one of the greatest assets this county has to offer?

Are we “OK” with a manager dismissing a public employee based on a personal dislike?

I think it is time that this issue comes into the daylight and we A) put education and our children first, B) get the library straightened out, and C) reinstate Mrs. Sherry Bogard.

Letters, such as this, are often seen as mindless complaining; however, if any readers are in doubt as to the qualities of Mrs. Sherry, simply research her record of success in the Shelby County – namely as the youth librarian at the Shelby County Public Library. 

I have personally been a regular patron of the library for five years (since we moved to Shelby County); during this time, we have never known of, or heard about, any adverse personnel actions against Mrs. Sherry. During this time, Mrs. Sherry even won the prestigious “Miss Pickle Award,” for Outstanding Children’s Services in the Public Library System in 2011. This award is only given to one recipient a year throughout the entire state of Kentucky.

Mrs. Sherry is a positive role model in this community, and has been the public face of the library at countless events. Mrs. Sherry is not a person we can afford to lose to a failing process and a system of bias and favoritism.

Please help us bring fairness to this issue and above all, pleasehelp us to get our Mrs. Sherry back! If the community rallies around this issue, perhaps a wrong can be made right – and our children will surely benefit from the effort.

We are assembling a public forum in the near future; date, time and place TBD. If you wish to be included in future communications about the forum and join our fight to get our Mrs. Sherry back, please send an E-mail with your contact information to: fight4sherry@yahoo.com.  We need as much community support as possible. 

 

Keri Cinotto lives in Shelbyville.