March 28, 2023

Crawford County Library System director resigns; severance package deal authorized

The Crawford County Library System director who got here below fireplace for putting LGBTQ+ books within the library has resigned and can obtain a severance package deal of greater than $40,000. The Crawford County Quorum Court docket authorized the severance deal Feb. 21.

The Quorum Court docket authorized an ordinance that states that the county’s treasurer can pay Deidre Grzymala $40,687.50 by Friday (Feb. 24). The quantity consists of Grzymala’s private and sick time. The ordinance additionally states that the county will proceed to pay for Gryzmala’s well being and dental insurance coverage via Sept. 1.

Dr. Tammi Hamby mentioned Wednesday (Feb. 22) that Gryzmala had resigned her place as director of the Crawford County Library System efficient Friday. A particular assembly of the Crawford County Library Board has been known as for five:30 p.m. Friday on the Van Buren Public Library to debate the appointment of an interim library director.

“We are going to put somebody in quickly. Then we are going to publish the place and begin the seek for a brand new director,” Hamby mentioned.

She wouldn’t focus on the resignation or any particulars of the severance package deal. Gryzmala mentioned she was not allowed to debate her resignation due to a non-disclosure settlement (NDA).

Nevertheless, an NDA with public officers by which public {dollars} are concerned just isn’t allowed in keeping with Arkansas legislation. Particularly, Arkansas Code Ann. 25-18-401 states:
“No public official or worker appearing in behalf of a governmental company or one other company wholly or partially supported by or expending public funds shall:
(1)  Agree or authorize one other to agree that each one or a part of a litigation settlement settlement to which the company is a celebration shall be stored secret, sealed, or in any other case withheld from public disclosure; or
(2)  Search a courtroom order denying public entry to any courtroom file or different doc containing the phrases of a settlement settlement resolving a declare by or in opposition to the company.”

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Moreover, Ark. Code Ann. 25-18-402 grants solely the Arkansas Division of Finance and Administration the ability to enter agreements which are confidential “if the subject material of the settlement is protected against public disclosure by the Freedom of Info Act of 1967.”

Discuss Enterprise & Politics on Wednesday despatched a Freedom of Info Act request to Crawford County Choose Chris Keith asking for particulars of the severance settlement and any correspondence associated to the director’s resignation and/or her resolution to resign.

Gryzmala was employed because the director of the Crawford County Library System in July 2022. Her tenure with the library has been overshadowed by controversy over LBGQT+ materials within the library since November.

Hamby, who was appointed as chair of the library board in January, and her husband Dr. Jeffrey Hamby, a Van Buren household doctor, spearheaded a marketing campaign in opposition to LBGQT+ books being accessible via the Crawford County Library System and Grzymala’s guide show of LBGQT+ youngsters’s books arrange on the Van Buren Public Library in November. Hamby was appointed to the Crawford County Library Board and named the board chair after Jamie Balkman, former chair, and two different board members resigned after a contentious Quorum Court docket assembly in December.

The Hambys despatched a letter to the Quorum Court docket and Crawford County Choose, dated Nov. 10, that famous: “We’re involved concerning the agenda that’s being pushed by the Van Buren Public Library, aiming training of different life to prepubescent youngsters. Now we have pals and workers that select to dwell various life that we love dearly. We don’t agree with that life-style however acknowledge their proper to dwell the way in which they select to dwell. We aren’t attempting to infringe on these rights in any method. Our difficulty is with the constitutional rights of fogeys and our spiritual liberties being infringed upon by this progressive woke ideology normalizing and equating gay and transsexual life with heterosexual household models,” the letter mentioned. “And doing this with out parental consent or the power to choose out. They’ve bought, with taxpayer cash, a number of books about various life which are aimed toward prepubescent youngsters. A few of these books can be found in board guide kind which tells you the age they’re concentrating on.”

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Grzymala mentioned on the time she believed everybody was reaching a compromise and the books had been moved to their very own part at every of the Crawford County Library System’s 5 libraries.

At a Jan. 10 assembly of the library board, Hamby introduced a movement outlining fundamental standards for assessing the deserves of a requested guide (not self-published, NYT bestseller, not $100+, and so forth), that are the traditional standards most library administrators, together with Grzymala, already use. Hamby, launched an modification to this movement that will take the choice on whether or not requested books had been added to the library from the director and have the board approve or deny any new guide requests. The movement was tabled till the subsequent library board assembly March 14.

In a particular known as assembly of the board Jan. 17, Hamby questioned Grzymala about spending. After greater than an hour of a circling dialogue on whether or not Grzymala had authority to pay the payments as soon as she knew the library’s finances was getting tight, Keith Pigg, the library board member from Mulberry, mentioned the library board had authorized all spending for the yr and the contract for the bills coping with updating the library’s computer systems, wi-fi and different know-how was signed in March 2022, earlier than Grzymala was employed on the library director in July.

The talk on the board assembly revolved across the library’s finances going $9,000 over the mixed whole of budgeted 2022 funds and $100,000 in discretionary funds for 2022, though the library had an account stability of $624,000. Later that evening, the Crawford County Quorum Court docket authorized a finances modification of $25,000 further funds for the library to pay bills, which licensed the library going that $9,000 over finances.

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