A Texas woman says she is being discriminated against because of her mental illness

A woman who questioned whether the Forest Hill Library District board voted to prohibit people with a diagnosed mental illness from holding office said she is now banned from the library for a year.

Leslie Jasperson, who ran unsuccessfully to unseat long-time trustee Charlotte Hogan-Price, said she was informed about the ban when she went to the library last Wednesday afternoon to check on the status of an open records request.

There, Forest Hill police officers met her as she was heading toward the door and told her she needed to leave the building because she came to the library several times a week and was “causing a disturbance,” Jasperson said.

Jasperson has bipolar disorder and said she believes that she is being targeted because of her disability.

“I was banned because I was asking too many questions. They (library board members) don’t like that,” she said. Jasperson said she was banned from the library including the building and parking lot for one year.

Jasperson provided a cell phone video to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram where a Forest Hill police officer tells her, “To our knowledge, apparently, you’re coming in once or twice a week causing a disturbance.”

“Is there anything else we can do for you at this point?”

Jasperson then tells the police, “mentally disabled people cannot serve on the board and we’re having problems with that.”

Library board president Dulani Masimini said he was not at the library when Jasperson was there, but said he got a phone call from library director, Michael Hardrick, who called the police because Jasperson was being disruptive.

Masimini said library employees are afraid of Jasperson because she is “too aggressive.”

“She is demanding things (open records information). If they can’t be done at the exact time she wants, it becomes a confrontation,” Masimini said.

“My biggest concern is that spectacles don’t erupt when others are there,” he said.

Jasperson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram previously that during the April 29 board meeting trustees voted to change the bylaws to state that a person with a diagnosed mental illness could not hold office.

However, the former board president, Charlotte Hogan-Price, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the proposal to change the bylaws was tabled so that the board could seek advice from its attorney as there are no procedures in place to remove someone from office.

The minutes from the April 29 meeting also stated that the item to amend the bylaws was tabled and that Hogan-Price is getting the proper wording from the board’s attorney.

When asked if the board voted to prohibit a person with a diagnosed mental illness from holding office, Masimini said the board discussed “the mental health of the people using the library and of people who might serve on the board.”

“We wanted to make sure that we were protecting ourselves and protecting our customers.”

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With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.