A candidate says she is being targeted because of her mental illness

A controversy is brewing over whether someone diagnosed with a mental illness can serve on the Forest Hill Library District board.

Leslie Jasperson, who is challenging board president and treasurer Charlotte Hogan-Price, said she is being targeted because she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Jasperson said that things came to a head at Monday’s meeting when Hogan-Price discussed amending the bylaws to state that someone with a diagnosed mental illness cannot serve on the board of trustees.

Jasperson said the trustees voted to amend the bylaws, but Hogan-Price said the proposal was tabled, and that an attorney representing the library district is reviewing the changes.

“I said that this is illegal, and it is discrimination. Only the state of Texas can disqualify me,” Jasperson said in an interview.

“Just because I am bipolar and have a disorder, doesn’t mean that I can’t run for office,” she said.

Jasperson said she was interviewed for a Star-Telegram article last year after a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Sundance Hospital on allegations that the facility held people against their will. Jasperson said she believes Hogan-Price learned of her bipolar disorder from the article.

But Hogan-Price said Jasperson does not understand the policies of the library district.

“It is unfortunate that we are going through this at this time. You have people that are throwing dirt at you; it’s not going to work. Jasperson will do anything. She doesn’t know anything about the policies and procedures, there was no discussion, it was tabled. We were looking at the bylaws because there was not a procedure in place for removal from office,” Hogan-Price said.

But Jasperson, and another resident, Janet Benton who also attended the meeting, told the Star-Telegram that Hogan-Price is “lying” and that the library district trustees voted to amend the bylaws.

Benton said she took notes and that Hogan-Price asked for a motion to amend the bylaws. The motion was seconded, and there was a vote, Benton said.

When asked what prompted them to attend the meeting, Benton said that since Jasperson is a candidate, she wanted to “get more involved.”

“I don’t think that she had any idea that this (mental illness) was going to come up,” Benton said.

Jasperson provided a copy of the agenda to the Star-Telegram which said, “Discuss and consider amendments to the bylaws.”

The website for the library does not contain updated agendas and minutes. The only agenda posted is for the June 25 meeting in 2018. There are no meeting minutes, and there are no links for audio or video recordings of the meetings.

According to the website, five trustees are elected to serve two-year staggered terms.

When asked about the lack of information on the site, Hogan-Price said there was no one to post the information.

“I was very surprised,” Jasperson said, describing how she felt after the meeting. “I started shaking; I was crying.”