Mom saw discrimination, OP library saw an unattended child

Visitor accuses library of racial discrimination. Library's director says claim is unfounded

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By Ashley Lisenby

Digital Editor

Following an accusation of racial discrimination against the Oak Park Main Library by a parent this summer, the library's chief officer insists the claim is unfounded and was instead an instance of a young child being left unattended at the library.

At a July meeting of the Oak Park Public Library board, a parent complained to the board that she and her two children were the targets of racial discrimination while visiting the library.

Helena Wilson-Moody visited the main branch, 834 Lake St., with her children on July 10.

According to David Seleb, the library's executive director, Wilson-Moody's "minor children" were left unattended in the library. Five days later, during the trustees' meeting, Wilson-Moody accused the library of racial discrimination.

"She believes that she and her children were treated unfairly and unequally under our policy because of their race," Seleb said in an email Wednesday.

According to Seleb, the issue was not the race of the patrons, but that Wilson-Moody's children were unattended.

In a letter to Wilson-Moody on Aug. 5, Lane Hart, president of the library board, said that her two children were in the library "without adult supervision from at least 9 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. And, perhaps, until at least 4:40 p.m."

Seleb cited the library's policy concerning this area in an email correspondence.

The library's policy states that, "unattended children under the age of eight may be asked to remain at the nearest Service Desk while staff attempt to locate the caregiver. When the safety of an unattended child is in doubt, or the parent or responsible caregiver cannot be located, or if the library is closing, library staff are authorized to call the police and stay with the child until the police arrive."

One of Wilson-Moody's children is under 8-years-old—her three-year-old daughter. Her son, however, is 10-years-old.

While in the library the 10-year-old left the younger sibling in the Children's Department on the first floor to play computer games on the second floor, according to the library.

"The library's requirement that minor children under age eight be accompanied and directly supervised by a parent or caregiver," wrote Hart in the letter, "does not mean that children over the age of eight qualify as responsible caregivers."

Wilson-Moody was asked to leave the library with her children.

"The Board of Trustees listened to that complaint, investigated it by interviewing staff who were involved and determined that staff acted appropriately," Seleb said, adding that he determined there's no reason to further investigate the matter.

It took about three weeks for library officials to respond to Wilson-Moody—a time frame, as reported in the meeting's minutes, Wilson-Moody deemed unacceptable.

In his email, Seleb added that he's unaware of any other complaints of racial discrimination at the library.

When asked to provide contact information for Wilson-Moody, Seleb said that her contact information is "personal, private information about a library customer that we do not disseminate."

Wednesday Journal made three attempts to find Wilson-Moody for a comment, but was unsuccessful.

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Reader Comments

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Posted: November 2nd, 2014 10:54 PM

This well known family is a menace to our community. The library has been their babysitter for years. They should be grateful. The mom pulled the race card when her child acted poorly at school. Unfortunately the administration seemed too afraid to take action. Ms. Moody drives around, beeping incessantly, apparently looking for her kids. There is talk of her children vandalizing property and causing trouble. How long will this go on before something really bad happens?

Mose from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 8th, 2014 4:06 PM

Mom needs to agree that is was poor judgement on her part to leave the children unattended for a least 5 hours. Is this an isolated incident due to an unforeseen emergency or are the kids regularly left unsupervised and forced to fend for themselves? There are a lot of questions about whether this individual is a fit parent and hopefully DCFS officials have been alerted. The potential for tragedy is significant and overall safety of the children has to be paramount. Are police investigating?

In the know  

Posted: October 8th, 2014 3:22 PM

We know this family quite well, and know how she operates. Make no mistake that this is just another instance of Helena Moody's extreme and continuous poor parenting coupled with her infamous idiotic rationale. Feel sorry for those kids. They have a long and tough road ahead. It's a dang shame they haven't been taken away yet.

Rick Springfield  

Posted: October 8th, 2014 1:12 PM

When I'm not touring the many fairgrounds and tertiary markets of these United States, thrilling middle aged and senior women with my musical prowess, I spend a fair amount of time at OPPL. I can say, with certainty, that this particular library user has been a problem for MANY years, constantly dropping off her children, and expecting the library staff to be her baby sitter, usually not coming to claim them until the end of the day. Hope to see you 11/7 at the River Spirit Casino, Tulsa, OK!!!!

John Q  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 9:54 PM

Winter, you got that right!

OakParker from Oak Park  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 9:04 PM

The mother should be grateful a public institution cared enough about her 3-year-old to call the police. In today's world, far too many children go missing in the blink of an eye. The library is a wonderful building, but not a safe place to leave a 3-year-old in the care of a 10-year-old. They did the right thing.


Posted: October 4th, 2014 4:04 PM

Frank from Forest Park - Where does it say the women or kids were black?

25 Year Newcomer from Oak Park  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 11:51 AM

Not sure how CJAX defines longtime residents. Sounds like she has some issues to sort out with a therapist. The point is that it is legally okay for older kids to wander around, go to library, etc. It is the age of the child that is at issue, not her race.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 11:10 AM

As a retired police officer, I am utterly delighted to see a helping institution like the library take a false allegation. No good deed goes unpunished. This allegation pushed the racial divide further apart. The two questions I have, if Mom made an in person complaint to the board, was someone sitting with the kids or did she bring them, and why didn't she use the Chicago Library system.To the library staff, how does damned if you do,damned if you don't feel? Keep up the good work.

Winter Skye from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 10:03 AM

LOL @ Real List!!!! :D

Winter Skye from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 10:02 AM

This is an utter joke. If anything, the library staff is overly accepting of Black children and teens causing a disruption. I have gone to the desks of the clerks/librarians and said: "Can't you hear this?" It is bad enough to create different zones for noise (which just cause more confusion) but there is no excuse to allow yelling and running around and I have seen/heard both while the staff does nothing and no guard goes past (and yet looks at ME in a questioning way!).

Realist from Naples FL  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 8:40 AM

Open up the Newspaper, watch the TV news and every day you hear about children abducted or attempted abduction. Race does not matter in these situations. How would this Mom have felt if one or both of her children were to become a part of that news story? Pretty much someone thought to be concerned. Anyone would have had the same reaction to seeing a 3 year old apparently alone. She should say thank you.


Posted: October 4th, 2014 7:46 AM

Cjax, ignore my comment; I misread yours.


Posted: October 4th, 2014 7:37 AM

Cjax, you seem to be tossing in all your grievances here, but you are failing to acknowledge the kid was 3. No I don't see 3-year-olds out and about without parents. If I did I would call the cops.

Island Dweller   

Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:48 AM

professional and accommodating. It however does not surprise me that a mother who would leave her 3 year old and other young kids in a public place unattended, is shifting accountability to make up for her lack of parenting ability. On top of that, shouting racism seems to be a knee jerk reaction when some people get called out and they don't have a reasonable response.

Island dweller   

Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:43 AM

If you've every been to the library, you'll know just how accepting and accommodating the staff are. I'm never seen a kid being treated differently regardless of color. I've seen kids being told to settle down because they're causing a big disturbance, or are climbing on that boat in a way where that could hurt themselves or other kids? and guess what? Those kids parents were no where to be seen. It blows my mind that anyone would accuse the library staff of being anything other than

Island dweller   

Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:39 AM

cjax, this isn't about acceptance, nor is it about what people find more concerning in the village? It's about a mother who left her kids at the library, and refuses to take responsibility for her inappropriate actions. I'm sure in some cultures, leaving your kids in public is acceptable, but it's highly risky here, and it also becomes a liability issue for the library. On top of that, the woman is pulling the race card, which makes it a bigger deal, but is obvious that she's shifting blame.


Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:22 AM

And we are supposed to be liberal and understanding here? Yes, If you are a long time Oak Parker, Own a business as Maya del Sol etc you are accepted. The true acceptance here will when you elect someone that owns property, with a lower income and has not lived here for ever. I'm more concerned about the OPRF fans that caused about 6K in property damage after the game to my tenants and neighbor with cancer. That doesnt matter?

Fools Everywhere  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:20 AM

1) The library staff should have called DCFS. Not doing so = enabling. I've seen lots of unattended kids climbing the walls at the library over the years. An abandoned 3 year old is the logical, albeit absurd, outcome of this liberal policy. 2) Frank, you are an embarrassment to white people.

Mose from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:18 AM

Sounds like the mother may have instructed her 10 year old son to watch the little ones while she ran an errand. He instead acted like a typical 10 year boy and proven he's too young to be given that responsibilty. It is a fact of life for many kids today to be told to look after a younger sibling(s) until the parent gets home from work or returns from picking up another child at a different school. Stretching from minutes to hours but very risky and reckless. Library Mom should know better.

cjax from oak park  

Posted: October 4th, 2014 12:17 AM

Simply stunned by the response here. Have you actually seen the amount of WHITE children that walk through oak park, go to the park, movies and library that appear to be 10 and under?! I am 'white' where the heck are their parents?! My son is 12 and no way is he walking to the movies, camp etc alone. But WOW Black mom? Have you seen the homeless ppl that hang at the OP library? And the drug dealers, I don't care what color you are its NOT a safe place to leave a child.

Island Dweller   

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 10:52 PM

Oh, please! This sorry excuse for a mother dumps her kids at the library and jets off of to do whatever it is she was doing? And then pulls the race card when she's called out for being an irresponsible parent. Judging by all the other kids that are left there to be babysat, it was only a matter of time until something like this happened. The mother's lucky DCFS was not called, which they should have been? And maybe the kids are unlucky that DCFS wasn't called.


Posted: October 3rd, 2014 10:18 PM

Maybe she should have hired those fellas who hang out at the library lobby all day to watch her kids!

Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 10:09 PM

Quit speculating about the law. Google the governing statue, and you'll find it: 720 ILCS 5/12 C-5. A caregiver of a young child has to be at least 14, and in sight of the child. First violation, a misdemeanor. Second violation, a felony. The lady ought to shut up, before she gets in some serious trouble. You can get in trouble for leaving a child under 6 unattended in a car for over 10 minutes. Better pick up that dry cleaning in a hurry. Can;t leave a child under 13 home alone for over 24 hrs

Real List  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 9:21 PM

Maybe the kids can grab a couple of tokens and have lunch at Delia's.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 9:00 PM

Quick, someone call Ben Crump!


Posted: October 3rd, 2014 8:15 PM

We shouldn't be making this about babysitting this mother left her children at a public facility. Then turns around and accuses them of discrimination it's obvious that she's trying to set up a lawsuit against The village to gain a profit. Shame on her she should be charged with neglect of her children.

Tucker from Oak Park  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 7:33 PM

The police should have been called and charges rendered. How do you leave children alone? Completely unacceptable.


Posted: October 3rd, 2014 7:14 PM

All good points. Mom is guilty. The writing of this article could use some work.

A. Parent  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 6:55 PM

I believe the law is that a 3 year old and a 10 year old must be under supervision of an adult at all times. A 10 year old cannot babysit a 3 year old, nor be left on own. A DCFS call was in order. It's sad parents are hard pressed for childcare. I was approached for money at the pool, by boys ages 6 and 8. A pool pass was their ticket to summer childcare. When it rained, they went to the library. U.S. companies do not support working parents with kids. Some European countries do.

Kathleen Wrobel from Oak Park  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 6:19 PM

WHERE was this mother? Leaving a little 3-y/o and other little one's by themselves... not good. I don't care if you're black, white, yellow, green or purple. The library didn't discriminate against mom. because she was black. The didn't discriminate at all! They used common sense which is something mom is obviously lacking.

It's true...  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 6:05 PM

Parents have been using the library as a babysitting service for many years, both Oak Park pools, too. When kids are well behaved with a good babysitter, it probably isn't too bad. But if the kids are completely unsupervised...all hell can break loose. Too bad there aren't drop in centers for parents in need of support like this. Babysitters are expensive! And not always reliable. But libraries are supposed to be quiet and scholarly places, not day care centers. There have to be boundaries.


Posted: October 3rd, 2014 5:53 PM

A three year old unattended for several hours?.....DCFS needs a call on this one.

OP Transplant  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 5:44 PM

Is something missing in this story? What was the allegation of racial discrimination based upon? Is the mother claiming that the library selectively enforced its rules because of race? Are children of other races allowed to be unattended?

Ty Willis from West Side  

Posted: October 3rd, 2014 5:36 PM

Sure. I feel that the mother is irresponsible and carless. What if her children were injured or kidnapped? Who would be responsible? OP? Than tax payers shell out a ton of money from lawsuits. Parents today must take great care for their children and stop blaming others for the problems they create. Race has nothing to do with this. Stop blaming others for your stupidity. Grow up and do the right thing parents. Good grief, heavens to Betsy

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