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EARLIER: Award winner Bogard fired by library

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Officials won’t disclose reason for termination

By Lisa King

Sherry Bogard, acclaimed statewide last year for heading up an outstanding reading program at Shelby County Library, has been fired from her position, and she wants her job back.

Bogard, who was dismissed by Executive Director Pam Federspiel in a decision upheld during a meeting Tuesday of the library’s board of directors, said she was fired without cause, but she wouldn’t elaborate on any legal response she might be considering.

A 10-year employee of the library, Bogard beat out 119 other librarians around the state in 2011, when she received the Miss Pickle Award, naming her the top children’s’ librarian.

Federspiel, who had nominated Bogard for that award, citing her “superb rapport with the children” to the Kentucky Public Library Association, declined to address her decision to fire Bogard.

“Because it’s a personnel issue, I really can’t comment,” she said.

Bogard said because of possible legal action she is contemplating, she could not discuss the reason why she was fired.

“I just went to speak to the director about an issue we had, and there was an altercation in the office,” she said. “I was asked to leave.”

Bogard said there was a taped account of the encounter, but she was not allowed to attend the meeting of the board of directors to discuss her position.

 

Board’s position

William K. Hudson of Simpsonville, chair of the library’s board of trustees, said he thought that Bogard should have been allowed to attend the meeting to speak on her own behalf.

“I suggested to the board members that we let Ms. Bogard speak to the board, but I did not get a positive response,” he said. “The board agreed with the action that Ms. Federspiel took.”

Hudson said he examined the library’s personnel policies and did not find any evidence that the board violated any of its procedures by denying Bogard the opportunity to make a statement, but he said he still felt it would have been only fair to permit her to do so.

Board member Nathan Riggs, a local attorney, also said he could not comment specifically on Bogard’s situation, but he said that the board did not vote on the matter, that it was Federspiel’s decision alone.

“She is in charge of hiring and firing,” he said.

Although Riggs said he did not condone or commend Federspiel’s decision, he said he was of the opinion that she has done an excellent job of heading up the library as director for the past two decades.

“I think Pam has been an excellent director, and I applaud what she’s done with the library for the twenty years that she’s been here,” she said.

Hudson, in his turn, was cautiously non-critical of Bogard.

“There’s nothing in her file that that indicates that she has been counseled about a substandard performance,” he said. “From what I can see, she has performed well as a children’s librarian.”

One parent of children who have participated in Bogard’s reading program is outraged, and she has been circulating a letter of protest on her behalf, even standing outside the library on Wednesday.

“So many parents with young children and teens in the Shelbyville region are shocked, angry and deeply saddened by Ms. Sherry’s dismissal,” said Keri Cinotto, who has had two young sons in Bogard’s program for the past five years.

She said in the letter that the way that Bogard was terminated was unethical because Bogard was not allowed to be in on the meeting at which her termination was to be discussed, and that employees began carrying out her personal belongings before the meeting took place.

“We were very sad and it was quite emotional watching the staff members taking Ms. Sherry’s personal items to a storage unit near the extra parking garage,” Cinotto said.

 

Reading program to continue

Bogard would not speak to any pending litigation she is considering, but said she would like to have her job back – under certain conditions.

“I absolutely would be willing to go back, but not under her [Federspiel] authority,” she said.

She said she was devastated not to be able to continue to read to the children, so she approached Shelby County Parks and Recreation about doing a reading program with them, and they agreed.
“We thought it was a good idea,” Parks Director Clay Cottongim said.

Bogard, a resident of Mount Eden, said she is going to be conducting that program on a volunteer level on her part, at 11 a.m. on Wednesdays, starting this week and running until Aug. 1 at the FAC pavilion at Clear Creek Park.

“I am coming every Wednesday to Shelby County to the park to be a guest reader to these children,” she said.

Bogard said her program already has drawn some local sponsors who have committed to providing refreshments for the children. She also said some local businesses have said  they intended to withdraw their support from the library’s summer reading program because of what happened.

Federspiel could not be reached for comment about that issue.

Bogard became emotional when she talked about her passion to keep reading to the children.

“This is not about me; it’s about these kids in the community,” she said. “It isn’t about me or the library. These are my kids, and this is about what’s right for these children.”

Bogard’s voice trembled as she talked about a young child who drew a picture for his
“Miss Sherry” and when he brought it to the library to give to her, she wasn’t there.

“A four-year-old doesn’t understand why I’m not at the library,” she said. “I’m forty-five, and I don’t understand it either.”