Two months after took on the job, the county’s director of library services is being let go.
By unanimous consent, county commissioners Tuesday morning approved a motion by Ricky Jones and seconded by William Massey to release Corey Bard.
The motion called for the matter to be reviewed by the county’s labor relations attorney, Leonard Carson, and a formal letter of severance be sent.
By Tuesday afternoon, Bard had been asked to clean out his desk, and return his keys. He declined comment on the commission’s decision.
In rendering their decision, commissioners also offered no further comment, but it was clear from their remarks at last month’s meeting, when they directed County Coordinator Michael Morón to speak with Bard, that they were unhappy that they had received complaints from patrons as well as library staff.
“I’m getting calls from both branches now,” said Morón at the Dec. 17 county commission meeting. He said complaints had come from both staff and patrons, although he stopped short of detailing them.
“It’s a personality clash between him and the staff and some of the patrons,” he said.
“I can tell you I have not had any issues with the Eastpoint library until now,” Jones said. “We’ve never had an issue until now.”
Massey made a motion to have Morón sit down with Bard and review the matter, at what Commissioenr Noah Lockley called “a come to Jesus” meeting.
“(As a new hire) he’s on 90 day probation,” Massey said. “If something don’t change, I’ll make a motion (to dismiss).”
Morón’s report at Tuesday’s meeting as to how the Jan. 2 meeting went was less than glowing.
He said he had spoken to Bard, the second such meeting in the 60 days since he was hired Nov. 4, and they reviewed “ongoing complaints and problems received by commissioners and county staff about his treatment of library staff members, library program volunteers, and patrons and the continued neglect of his daily responsibilities as director.
“Mr. Bard agreed that he needed to do a better job with his day to day responsibilities, however, he felt that any complaints about the way he treated staff, volunteers, and patrons had to be ‘made up’ because he got along with everyone he came in contact with here in the county,” Moron said.
He said he reminded Bard that as he was in a probationary period, he could be dismissed with or without cause.
“I made an offer to Mr. Bard, allowing him to resign with a severance pay option if he thought this job was no longer a fit for him; Mr. Bard refused that offer,” Morón said.
The county coordinator said he received an email from Bard on Saturday, that read, in part, “Just a warning, if I am fired, I will build a legal team, interview the directors going back a decade and present a case of an environment of intimidation, harassment and I have the resources to file lawsuits for the rest of your life.”
Morón told commissioners Tuesday that “based on his threat and drastic reaction to our meeting, I believe improvement is unlikely.”
Because Bard retains what is called “a liberty interest in his employment,” he is permitted, at his request, to appear before the commissioners to tell his side of the story.
In an interview Wednesday, Bard declined comment whether he planned to exercise that right.
Bard, from Ruidoso, New Mexico, was hired in October to replace Lisa Lance, who left her post in the spring to pursue her career in Tennessee. The vote on behalf of the recommendation of the library advisory board, chaired by Kate Aguiar had been 3-2, with Lockley and Massey opposed.
Bard, who holds a master of library science degree from Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois, was given a salary of $45,000.