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Second Hudson Falls library worker loses job in wake of reading program controversy

2013-09-17T14:52:00Z 2013-09-17T17:26:37Z Second Hudson Falls library worker loses job in wake of reading program controversyBILL TOSCANO -- btoscano@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
September 17, 2013 2:52 pm  • 

HUDSON FALLS -- After 28 years as an aide at the Hudson Falls Free Library, Lita Casey said, she was “stunned” to get a telephone call from a member of the library’s board of trustees Monday night, telling her she had been fired.

She said she believes the action is related to a controversy over the library’s summer reading program.

The decision, made by the board Monday night, came days after board President Michael Herman confirmed that Director Marie Gandron, who had been at the library 41 years, was no longer employed there.

“I could not believe it, and I still cannot believe it,” Casey said Tuesday.

She said she was called by board member Michael Mercure, who is a lawyer and the Washington County public defender.

“I asked why I was being terminated, and I was told the board would not give a reason. I asked if I could come down and talk to the board. He went away for a minute, came back and said no.

“I worked there for 28 years without a complaint,” said Casey, who also taught nursery school for 42 years. “I have to believe it was related to the whole reading controversy.”

The uproar over the reading contest, which drew international attention, occurred over the summer when Gandron said she intended to change the rules of the contest, and Casey opposed the change.

Nine-year-old Tyler Weaver won the six-week “Dig Into Reading” competition this year, the fifth-consecutive year he has won.

Gandron told a reporter she had wanted to change the way prizes were awarded because Weaver “hogs” the contest. Casey, who got to know the boy because of all the time he spent in the library, told Gandron she felt that was unfair.

Herman confirmed Friday that Gandron, who had been with the library 41 years, was no longer working there, and he confirmed Tuesday morning that Casey was no longer employed there, although he would not say why.

“I can confirm that Lita Casey is no longer employed at the library. I cannot comment further on any personnel issues,” he said in an email Tuesday.

He said much the same thing about Gandron on Friday.

Herman did say the library has begun the process of replacing Gandron.

“We have begun the process of selecting and hiring an interim director for the library,” he said.

Casey, who worked in the children’s room, said that despite her relationship with Weaver, she would have raised the issue no matter what child was affected by a change in the contest rules.

“It wasn’t because it was Tyler. I had heard from someone else that she planned the change, and I said ‘That’s not right, you don’t penalize a child for reading,’ ” Casey said. “So she told me she would just change it for next summer.”

Before speaking with Gandron, Casey talked to Herman, the board president, who told her he did not have an issue with the change.

Casey was quoted in a Post-Star article about the reading program as saying she felt the change would be “ridiculous.”

According to the library’s website, Gandron and Casey were among six employees of the library, which is open 35 hours per week.

Weaver’s mother Katie said she thought the decision to fire Casey was unfair.

“Her whole life has been given to the kids at that library,” Weaver said. “For them to do that to her is just awful.”

Casey said she was personally hurt by the decision.

“I am so disappointed in the board for failing to recognize the years I have put in,” she said. “I am going to miss it.”

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(40) Comments

  1. PamK
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    PamK - September 20, 2013 8:36 am
    Would Ms. Casey have been OK to talk about this if she had been a full time employee? Her emplyoyment status should have had no bearing on it. She has a right to an opinion whether she works for them or not. She saw what she percieved as a wrong being done to a specific child and she tried to right it through appropriate channels and failed with both the Director and the Board. What recourse did she have other than roll over and let it go? She is a "whistleblower" and some people think that sheds light on less than good behavior that goes on behind closed doors. Evidently the library board could not take the heat their decisions made and have now made another poor one to fire this woman who was guilty only of defending an excellent library patron in the last way left open to her.
  2. PamK
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    PamK - September 20, 2013 8:22 am
    Changing the rules of a contest to eliminate the best contestant in favor of a lesser accomplished contestant is sending the wrong message to our youth. This librarian knew the boy who won because he spent so much time at the library. That is the purpose of library contests, not to award ribbons. If the reason the library fired a superlative employee who stood up to her boss in favor of a library patron was to save face, shame on them. They have now added more egg to it. The US is going down the tube in a race for mediocrity and Hudson Fall's library board's decisions in this matter exemplifies it.
  3. blammo
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    blammo - September 20, 2013 7:46 am
    There is a difference between insubordination and giving an opinion you feel pasionate about.
    in·sub·or·di·na·tion
    noun noun: insubordination; plural noun: insubordinations
    1. defiance of authority; refusal to obey orders.
  4. coverdalev
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    coverdalev - September 19, 2013 11:37 pm
    Totally agree. People like Marie are the reason our country is lagging in education and ingenuity. If everyone receives the same for not achieving what message is that sending. If you want to put words of support for Ms. Casey please visit a facebook site we set up for her:
    Lita Casey deserves recognition.
  5. FEFAN
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    FEFAN - September 19, 2013 11:27 pm
    This IS all their fault. Because someone didn't get their name in the paper for what was perceived to be a major accomplishment, the paper was called and they followed up. The Librarian then proceeded to shoot herself in the foot, and the rest is history. Mrs. Casey got caught up in the flood and the Library Board tried to save face by firing everybody. If you want to get a little ink in the paper, be good at a sport! Is this kid reading for the enjoyment of reading or to simply win the contest? I have read voluminously all my life and have been well served simply from the knowledge I gained from that. I never needed public recognition.
  6. FEFAN
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    FEFAN - September 19, 2013 11:08 pm
    Lcoin, you seem to have a very deep and personal interest and/or connection to this issue insofar as you are commenting on everybody else's input on this story . To respond to your reply to my comment, I have read about this story in at least seven different local and national newspapers and followed it on all three local TV stations as well as having seen the FOX interview and its coverage thereafter in the local papers. I am not as uninformed as your reply seems to accuse. The difference between us, Lcoin, is that I don't hide behind a screen name. I put my name on my posts. Call me...I'm in the phonebook.
    William "Spanky" Collier
    Fort Edward
  7. ProudMamaBear
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    ProudMamaBear - September 19, 2013 9:42 pm
    Agree 100%!!!
  8. ProudMamaBear
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    ProudMamaBear - September 19, 2013 9:41 pm
    With the amount of ignorant people in the world, do we even need a library? Anyone who thinks that Mrs. Casey should have been fired is ignorant and should read everything before speaking. The same goes for anyone who supports Ms. Gandron bad-mouthing a child. I agree 100% with Lcoin. Go Mrs. Casey!!! If standing up for a child is wrong, then what has this world come to?
  9. TJK
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    TJK - September 19, 2013 9:07 pm
    the board has been running behind the problem from the beginning including management of problem and complaints, policy, PR and remediation, this is a leadership failure; the board should get new members or leadership,
  10. TikisMom
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    TikisMom - September 19, 2013 5:37 pm
    As a part-time worker, you can't expect to be insubordinate and go on TV and call you boss "ridiculous" and keep your job!! That just doesn't happen.
  11. Bingo
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    Bingo - September 19, 2013 4:43 pm
    Lcoin, Casey deserved to be fired, bottom line. I'm sure, as in every workplace, there are disagreements where each party makes their case. I'm sure Ken Tingley can think of a time when an employee disagreed with him strongly. I'm sure he has changed his position by listening to those arguments before. And I'm sure he has stuck by his decisions at others.

    But if you don't get your way (Casey wanted the contest to remain as is) you don't go badmouthing your co-workers/boss to a newspaper. Yes, you should be fired for that. I'm sure Mrs. Casey is a great person and librarian and great with children, but that's no excuse for her unprofessional behavior, as she damaged the rep of HFL.

    You clearly have a personal relationship with Casey and don't care for Gandron. I've never even been to HF library. Looking at it objectively, Casey was clearly the one who deserved to be fired the most.
    Just because you disagree with Gandron's opinion doesn't mean she did something worthy of termination.
  12. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 19, 2013 12:09 pm
    Guess we should also remove the coloring contest and craft competition too. Hey, why dont we just do away with all competitions and incentives in every subject and event in the entire country! Great comments Ruckweiler! Who wants competition to make ourselves and the world a better place by working hard. Who needs a Nobel Peace Prize award or any Academic Scholarships. I'm sure people will work just as hard without any incentives....
  13. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 19, 2013 10:19 am
    Regardless what Gandron was thinking when the paper called, or if she was caught off gaurd- bottom line is she did not respond like an respectable adult, nor a respectable member of the community. She did not or could not even respond in a professional manor, that as the Library Director, is required. She then cowardly and unmorally blamed it on Mrs. Casey, the easy defenseless scapegoat. Because thats how we want to teach our future generations to act right? To not take responsibilty for their actions- to just senselessly blame others. And that clearly is the message we want to send to the community too, that the public library does not hold themselves accountable to that same moral standards of society. Mrs. Casey did not make Gandron say those nasty things about a 9 year old. Gandron openly and proudly spoke her disgusting mind, and now the HF community is crushed over what this has done to Mrs. Casey!!!!!!!
  14. RCTS779
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    RCTS779 - September 19, 2013 9:10 am
    Right on the money, Bingo!
    It's a sad state of affairs when expressing your opinion equals being insubordinate. Doubly so, when your opinion equals that of the powers that be who fired your boss. What a swell reward.
    I'm not sure how not getting a press release to the local paper quickly enough constitutes, "messing with" someone's "babies" or how running to the media equals "guiding" your kids down the right path. Reading "one" book does not make a kid a "winner" - it makes them educated.
    I never found Marie or anyone at HFL to be "miserable" which is why I chose to frequent HFL rather than the main library full of automatons. I've seen both women interact with kids in a positive manner - encouraging and praising reading, extending a book's renewal with no fine - giving a treat to their dog who's trotted along for a trip to HFL.
    HFL was a great place to visit - not sure what it will be like in the future. Wonder if sitting or standing on their grass will be a felony?
  15. Ruckweiler
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    Ruckweiler - September 19, 2013 8:40 am
    I'm glad she was fired. This attitude that winning and competition is a bad idea must go. The child was doing the work required and she decided that he won too often. Goodbye, librarian.
  16. roxy56
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    roxy56 - September 18, 2013 10:26 pm
    As a Hudson Falls resident, I am embarrassed by the recent headline news Hudson Falls has had but firing Mrs Casey is going too far. She has been a fixture in the Hudson Falls library, encouraging the youth of our community in reading, and stood up when inappropriate comments were made. For this she is let go without provocation??? SHAME ON YOU!!!
  17. Bingo
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    Bingo - September 18, 2013 5:36 pm
    I'm surprised no one has defended this specific decision though. While Gandron's firing was ridiculous and unwarranted, Casey's firing is more understandable. I guess she has never heard of insubordination.
    After speaking with her boss, she went to the newspaper to say the boss's view on a program change was ridiculous.

    It's amazing how the Post-Star feels Casey unfairly lost he job. (I don't really believe them.) If they hold that view, they should put their money where their mouth is and allow employees to appear on local tv outlets trashing Ken Tingley's decisions. My guess is those employees would be fired, as they should be.
  18. Bingo
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    Bingo - September 18, 2013 3:57 pm
    The irony here is that Will Doolittle has a recent blog post titled 'When winning goes too far.'

    It was about the age-old debate on how sports teams ahead in a blowout should play out the remainder of the game. I wonder if it ever dawned on the Post-Star that that sentiment that Doolittle and many others have expressed over the years (including at the pro level in sports where it's seen as bad taste and disrespectful to showboat in a blowout) was what was going through the librarian's mind when she said the boy was hogging the contest.

    After a fifth consecutive win in the contest, the mother thought it prudent to phone the newspaper to boast. So the same thoughts that Doolittle had on that soccer game were the same thoughts running through the librarian's mind when she was phoned for comment. She was caught off-guard because she didn't expect that level of showboating from a parent.

    But I guess there is a double standard for the librarian and everyone else?
  19. Bolton Insider
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    Bolton Insider - September 18, 2013 3:53 pm
    TOTALLY agree with Lcoin
  20. Itisjustme
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    Itisjustme - September 18, 2013 1:31 pm
    something certainly doesn't sound "right" here. I think the State should step in and check further into just exactly what is happening over there!! There are to many unanswered questions. I definitely think this ant hill turned into a huge mountain unnecessarily. What a shame to have two devoted employees lose their longtime jobs terminated over such nonsense. Sounds like people will do anything to get attention these days ....very sad indeed.
  21. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 18, 2013 1:18 pm
    +Regardless on personal views about how a reading contest should or should not be - we all share the same respect that any child reading one book is winner!
  22. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 18, 2013 11:54 am
    I agree that this should be front page news.... what I do not agree with is that you blame the mother. I am 28, I have no children, and have no desire to ever have children. But I can understand that when someone messes with your babies... especially when they are vulnerable and too young to process what is actually happening- you will take drastic measures to continue to guide and teach them in the right directions. The LAST thing we need is for those children, or any child, feeling bad or think that reading is a BAD thing! In addition, when you make a mistake or hurt others, the moral and ethical thing to do is take responsibility for your actions. Marie made a mistake, and Mrs. Weaver also did NOT want her boys to grow up thinking they do not have to own up and take responsibility for their actions!
  23. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 18, 2013 11:23 am
    If Marie could have acted like a professional adult and filtered her awful thoughts, none of this would have happened. Marie is a miserable person, and must have had a personal vendetta against Lita, or the Weaver family or both! It is only Maries fault. Dont make comments if you don't or won't read all the facts.
  24. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 18, 2013 11:03 am
    I hope all parents stand behind Mrs. Casey. She has devoted her life to nurturing and caring for our future generations. She loved that library and used to be very proud of it as well. Please, if your child ever attended that library please add Lita Casey on Facebook! Or email her at leetdc@yahoo.com. She would LOVE to hear and continue to be a part of your child's success in reading,learning and growing! She will miss your children the MOST! She loved all who walked down those stairs!
  25. Lcoin
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    Lcoin - September 18, 2013 10:59 am
    Boycott the HF library! Go to Crandall or go to the Ft. Edward library (rumor is Mrs. Casey & many of book reading club children will be going there from now on). If u are a resident of HF- remember this slap in the face next budget, as ur tax dollars fund these a**holes salary!! Library board President Mike Herman, VP Arlene, the rest of the board AND to the other co workers (who made Mrs. Caseys last few weeks there hell) I hope u sleep well. You are cowards! You took away from her a final last day for her to say goodbye to all the children she loved so dearly! After all she had done for that library & the community!? This is how you repay her services and dedication?? This is an incredibly sad story. I hope all who know Mrs. Casey & the rest of the HF community stand with her & not step foot in that library again! She did not deserve to go out like this! She stood up for a child & all children everywhere that wanting to read & reading is NOT a bad thing!
  26. hudsonfalls
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    hudsonfalls - September 18, 2013 10:48 am
    The Library Board should have looked into this whole issue before jumping in and terminating a well respected and liked person--and then finally hearing what the real story about the contest is. When that comes they finally terminate the right person-too bad they can't terminate the "mother" who was looking for way too much attention and has made her son the way he is acting. Has the apology--remember that word-been given to their loyal emplyee they first terminated? Should be first thing taken up at an emergency meeting soon. The Post-Star should finally move on to "real" news. HEADLINE ON FRONT PAGE!!!!
    Signed by a very long time patron of HF Free Library--
  27. BobTheBuilder
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    BobTheBuilder - September 18, 2013 8:57 am
    The library board perpetuates the "small town - small mind" stereotype.
  28. HuntLake
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    HuntLake - September 18, 2013 8:54 am
    I cannot imagine a long-term employee's being blindsided with a telephone call terminating her employment. Then refusing to discuss it with her - or even giving her a reason. "Cleaning house", if that what it was, is not a solution when so many factors are involved. I hope that someone has the strength and courage to come forward with the real story behind this disgusting decision.
  29. Future Mrs H
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    Future Mrs H - September 18, 2013 8:51 am
    Mrs. Casey, I would call an attorney or the NYS labor Dept., I believe that if you are fired they have to give you a reason. Though I am sure they would come up with some lame excuse. Best of luck to you.
  30. Future Mrs H
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    Future Mrs H - September 18, 2013 8:45 am
    It is for reasons like this that I am embarassed to say that I live in HF! The board should be ashamed of themselves and should all resign...or better yet should be fired as they did to these two long term employees. An apology to the young man and his family should be given, but firing employees is not warrented in this situation! I am outraged! Correct this and give these ladies their jobs back and step down from the board.
  31. ChipM
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    ChipM - September 18, 2013 3:08 am
    This is not the paper or Mrs. Weaver's fault!!! or Mrs. Casey's. It's pure stupidty!
  32. bencats
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    bencats - September 18, 2013 1:52 am
    After reading this article the first thing that came to mind was how long have the same rules been in place? Why would you want to change to rules that were in place for years? This is a kid that obviously did the work and deserved to win the contest. To change the rules just because you didn't want the same child to keep winning is a poor thing to do to a child who deserves to WIN. What would you have done if you changed the rules and the same child still won ? Poor judgement on the part of everyone involved except Casey. I commend her for doing the right thing and hope she moves on to better opportunities.
  33. tgrmom
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    tgrmom - September 17, 2013 8:43 pm
    Hudson Falls Library Board... You have got to be kidding !! If something was said offensive to a child during a 'reading contest' then for sure an apology might be warranted and work out the situation with the child, his family and the director. Better lesson would have been learned for this kid and the director...instead , end two long term careers of two people over this. People committed to the community. That was a shameful campaign on the parts of some people. Hope you enjoyed your 15 minutes of fame over this.
  34. danstark
    Report Abuse
    danstark - September 17, 2013 7:41 pm
    I got 2nd place in this contest one year. This program made an impact on me. I hope they continue the contest.
  35. BigDaddy
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    BigDaddy - September 17, 2013 7:15 pm
    Pink Floyd sang, "The lunatic is on the grass", long before Hudson Falls banned it and then said OK you can go on the grass. Now I think they should check who is smoking it.
  36. commandercarey
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    commandercarey - September 17, 2013 6:40 pm
    The library Board of Directors should be ashamed of themselves for firing an employee that gave so many years of service to the library and was protecting the rights of a child. As a Library Board member myself in my town I would not be able to sleep knowing that the board acted in such an underhanded fashion and then to hide behind the NO COMMENT rhetoric when asked about it is cowardice in my opinion
  37. FEFAN
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    FEFAN - September 17, 2013 6:18 pm
    This personnel decision, to put it bluntly, is bulls%$&t. I hope that the Post Star reporter, editor, editorial board, and Mrs. Weaver are proud of what you have wrought...talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. I think the entire Library Board should resign in disgrace as well. Matter of fact, let's have a good ol' fashioned book-burnin' in Paris Park.
    William "Spanky" Collier
    Fort Edward
  38. gogetem
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    gogetem - September 17, 2013 5:49 pm
    What a bunch of BS! The Board needs to be dis-membered! I'm sure Ms. Casey has a 'Case'!
  39. sasquatch
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    sasquatch - September 17, 2013 5:05 pm
    Hudson Falls seems to have a lot of issues, bad karma, bad vibes. May Lita Casey enjoy her new-found retirement. Live with it and prosper. The library board of trustees has apparently been stealing all the sex books, and their judgment is marred.
  40. Bob1234
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    Bob1234 - September 17, 2013 4:49 pm
    Sounds like the board of trustees feel "what's good for the library director's goose is good for the library aide's gander."

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