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Federal government investigating civil rights complaint against Forest Hill library

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - 1/3/2020

Jan. 3--The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Education Department is investigating whether the Forest Hill Library District violated the Americans with Disabilities Act after a woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder was banned from the library for a year.

Leslie Jasperson, who filed her complaint Nov. 20 in Dallas, alleged she was banned last spring after she questioned whether the board voted against allowing people diagnosed with a mental illness from holding office.

Jasperson ran unsuccessfully for a place on the library board.

"I feel great. Finally, someone is listening," she said.

Dulani Masimini, the library district board president, said Thursday that he wasn't aware of the investigation and said the board will cooperate.

However, the letter provided to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram stated that the library district was informed about Jasperson's complaint.

"Leslie was banned because of her continued negative interaction with the library staff, that was the concern. Not because of her disability," Masimini said.

Jasperson said she contacted Disability Rights Texas and was told to contact the Department of Education, which enforces Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Jasperson has said she believed the board in April discussed and voted to change its bylaws to state that a person with a diagnosed mental illness could not hold office.

But the minutes from the April 29 meeting showed an item to amend the bylaws regarding removal from office was tabled as the board sought advice from its 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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