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Spotsylvania review panel determines challenged books can stay in high school libraries

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Spotslyvania County School Board (copy)

Several attendees of a 2021 Spotsylvania School Board meeting show opposition to banning books.

A committee made up of Spotsylvania County school division staff, parents and community members has determined that eight books recently challenged by the parent of a student are appropriate for high school readers and can remain in high school libraries.

The parent has appealed the committee’s decision.

“All eight books have been requested by the petitioner to be reviewed further,” school division spokesperson René Daniels said. “Therefore, the request for reconsideration of instructional materials for the eight books is still in progress as per school board policy.”

The parent initiated the challenge process earlier this month, asking for the books to be removed from school libraries.

The books under review are “SOLD” by Patricia McCormick, “Like a Love Story” by Abdi Nazemian, “America” by E.R. Frank, “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “DIME” by E.R. Frank, “Beloved” by Toni Morrison and “Looking for Alaska” by John Green.

According to the school division’s policy IIA-R, which governs the selection and review of instructional materials, the committee assembled to review the challenged books is supposed to read them “in their entirety,” check “general acceptance” of the material by reading reviews, and judge the material “for its strength and value as a whole and not in part” before making a decision.

The review committee is supposed to complete a checklist and submit it to the superintendent, according to the policy.

The committee’s decision can be appealed to the superintendent and the School Board.

School Board Chair Kirk Twigg said at the board’s May 9 meeting that he wants to “clear out our libraries.”

“I know there was an effort started last fall and it died,” Twigg said, referring to the board’s November vote to remove “sexually explicit” books from school libraries.

At that meeting, Twigg also said he wanted to, “See the [removed] books before we burn them so we can identify within our community that we are eradicating this bad stuff.”

Adele Uphaus–Conner:

540/735-1973

auphaus@freelancestar.com

@flsadele

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