13 Reasons for firing Brenda Biesterfeld

Brenda Biesterfeld was fired two days after she reported to police a man was looking at child pornography on a library computer.

Biesterfeld says she was told not to call the police and was fired for going against her supervisor's orders. The county listed 13 other reasons for her firing, including failing to properly file paperwork and list books. They also say she wasn't organized and didn't handle customers well.

County Statement:

Contact: Eric Coyne,
County Media Officer
786-5339 cell
Michael G. Woods, Attny.
McCormick-Barstow LLP
559-433-2335 or 259-6007 cell
Release: immediately
Date: 4/8/08

Statement Regarding Dismissal of Brenda Biesterfeld, Formerly Employed At the Lindsay Branch of the Tulare County Library (Issued by Michael G. Woods, Attny. representing Tulare County in this matter) Tulare County is in receipt of an authorization from Ms. Biesterfeld allowing the County to disclose the reasons for the release of Ms. Biesterfeld from her probationary employment on March 6, 2008. Ms. Biesterfeld was employed by the County on September 16, 2007 in the position of Library Assistant I. Ms. Biesterfeld signed an "Acceptance of Probationary Appointment in the Competitive Service" on September 17, 2007, acknowledging that she was accepting a probationary appointment and would be serving a probationary period for six months. As a probationary employee, Ms. Biesterfeld could be released from her employment for any reason or for no reason at all as long as the reason does not violate public policy.

Ms. Biesterfeld received an evaluation following three months of her employment and received an overall rating of 5 on a scale of 10. Goals for improvement included the proper completion of the cash report, proper documentation of the collection of fines, the importance of seeking clarification of policies and procedures, developing clerical skills, working on assigned tasks and keeping her supervisors informed of all problems and community complaints. Ms. Biesterfeld failed to improve as directed and continued to demonstrate performance deficiencies that led to a decision in the middle of February to release her from her probationary employment. Those performance issues included, but are not limited to:

1. Failure to accurately and correctly complete timesheets as instructed. Despite being instructed otherwise, Ms. Biesterfeld's continued to complete her timesheets in advance, and failed to revise them if her actual work hours differed, resulting on more than one occasion in an overstatement of the hours she worked. In that she was paid on an hourly basis, an overstatement of hours worked could result in an overpayment of salary.

2. Failure to properly process Pull List (book borrowing) requests from other libraries in the San Joaquin Valley Library System for items maintained in the Lindsay library, twice daily as instructed, resulting in poor service to customers throughout the San Joaquin Valley's cooperative library system.

3. Failure to process and accurately account for the daily cash as instructed.

4. Failure to timely and properly link and process Lindsay Branch magazines when received and ultimately other staff had to research and correct the errors. 5. Failure to timely process and prepare newly received materials, including the failure to accurately and timely enter receipt of the materials in the computer and to shelve them so that they would be readily available to the public.

6. Failure to timely and properly check in returned books and materials and reshelve them so they again would be readily available to the general public.

7. Failure to organize and "read" shelves as assigned. Shelves are periodically designated for "reading," meaning the shelves are to be inspected to insure that the materials on that shelf are properly filed and organized and any misplaced or misfiled materials are removed and properly shelved. This is critically important for locating items in a library.

8. Failure to keep current the "Branch" and "Substitute" manuals by inserting all new and/or revised policies and practices.

9. Failure to respond to customer's inquiries by using the branch reference system. In one particular situation, when Ms. Biesterfeld could not determine the answer, rather than personally telephoning the Visalia reference desk for assistance, she suggested that the customer drive to Visalia for the answer.

10. Failure to properly inventory and order supplies necessary to the operation of the branch library.

11. Despite being counseled that a particular volunteer had limited capabilities and probably would be unable to correctly shelve materials, Ms. Biesterfeld nevertheless utilized him to do so and without oversight, resulting in books being improperly shelved.

12. Regarding the specific incident, despite being told in her three-month evaluation that she needed to keep her supervisor informed of all problems and community complaints, originally Ms. Biesterfeld did not tell her supervisors that the patron was accessing child pornography, and thereafter she neglected to notify anyone in management of the events which transpired, including the suspect's arrest until after they had occurred and failed to advise that the library's computer had been seized.

13. Ms. Biesterfeld was insubordinate on March 4, 2008, when she refused to answer her supervisor's questions. Ms. Biesterfeld told her supervisor Judi Hill that she was requested to call a R. Wilkinson from the City of Lindsay. She never identified him as a police officer. Ms. Hill repeatedly asked Ms. Biesterfeld who Mr. Wilkinson was and what the call was about. Ms. Biesterfeld refused to provide any information, simply telling Ms. Hill that she was to call Mr. Wilkinson. At the time Ms. Biesterfeld knew that R. Wilkinson was a captain in the Lindsay Police Department who wished to speak with Ms. Hill about the situation involving Mr. Crisler and the seizure of the library's computer. Following Ms. Biesterfeld's release there were additional performance deficiencies and policy violations that were discovered which would have led to her release and/or termination from public employment. In view of the Ms. Biesterfeld's threatened litigation and on the advice of counsel library personnel will not be responding to any inquiries concerning Ms. Biesterfeld's release.

Eric Coyne Tulare County Media Officer & Tourism Manager 559-733-6531 office 559-786-5339 cell

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