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Colorado library district reaches settlement with fired librarian

ERIE, Colo — A Colorado library district that allegedly fired a librarian after she objected to their decision to get rid of anti-racism and LGBTQ programming for teens will pay her $250,000.

They also agreed to create a review committee, giving librarians more of a voice in programming decisions, as part of a settlement that the librarian’s attorney called groundbreaking.

For Brooky Parks working at the Erie Community Library was a dream come true.

“I just love helping my community and serving my community,” Parks said. “It’s just very rewarding at the end of the day to be able to go home and say I was able to find this person information to solve the issue that they’re struggling with.”

But that all began to unravel two years ago when Parks said the High Plains Library District Board of Trustees implemented a new programming policy that forced her to cancel two teen programs.

“An anti-racism workshop for teens and an LGBTQ teen program called ‘Resistance Through History,’” said Parks.

She also said she was ordered to rename her book club, which was called the ‘Read Woke Book Club.’

Parks said the district felt the word ‘woke’ and the two teen programs were polarizing.

“The intention of the programs [were] to create compassion among teens and in the community to build empathy and understanding,” said Parks.

Parks says she started sharing her concerns with community members.

“I was written up at work and I responded to the written warning,” said Parks. “And when I turned that into them, they pulled me into the office the very next morning and said that my services were no longer needed.”

That’s when she contacted Denver attorney Iris Halpern.

“My reaction at that time was surprise and shock because this was at the kind of beginning, at the forefront of what we’ve now seen take place across the country,” said Halpern. “I think right now what you’re seeing is the same dog whistling and southern strategy that you did see in the past in like the 60s. And what happens is that the lack of empathy, the vilification, the fact that you’re treating different groups as less than that as second-class citizens leads to suppression, disenfranchisement, violence and hate.”

Halpern says what followed was a long and complicated process, that included filing charges with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission.

On Friday, it ended with a historic settlement.

“This settlement is groundbreaking as far as we’re aware,” said Halpern. “It’s one of the first, if not the first public settlement in the country on behalf of a librarian who’s been terminated for these types of issues.”

In addition to paying Parks $250,000, the library district agreed to change its policies, including implementing a review process that gives librarians a voice in deciding which programs are offered.

“I think it’s going to be a big help for librarians to be able to safely speak up,” said Parks.

Parks says she still misses her old job.

“I loved working with the teens at my library. My coworkers are fantastic. I was very passionate about my job and I miss it a lot,” said Parks.

But now she has a new job working with college students and she gets to continue serving the community.

Denver7 reached out to the High Plains Library District for comment but has not heard back.

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