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Parents take battle to ban books in school libraries to school board meeting

Battle to ban books in school libraries take center stage at school board meeting (WPEC)
Battle to ban books in school libraries take center stage at school board meeting (WPEC)
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The battle to ban books in school libraries across Indian River County took center stage at Monday’s school board meeting after an advocate-group of parents, known as Moms of Liberty: Indian River County, claim dozens of books contain pornographic text and obscene messages.

On November 16, 2021, the School Board of the School District of Indian River County approved an action item directing the Superintendent to conduct a full assessment of the District’s school libraries and media centers to include:

  • Review district policies, administrative procedures, and statutes appropriate to the selection of instructional materials including library/media center books.
  • Investigate the Follette Learning School System’s process for recommending books to our schools. Are there other library/media center library systems that offer the same or similar services as Follette and Renaissance but with stricter practices on their recommendations?
  • Investigate the processes for Accelerated Reader (AR) selections from Renaissance and how we can ensure books selected for use with AR are in alignment with relevant Board Policies and state statutes.
  • Establish a process by which books in our libraries and media centers will be free and clear of harmful, prohibited, or obscene material congruent to Florida statute 847.012.
  • Conduct a full evaluation of the current use of the library/media centers to increase student engagement and interaction.

According to the findings from the review of 156 books conducted by media specialists, the current versions of School Board Policy 2520 Selection and Adoption of Instructional Materials and School Board Policy 9130 Public Complaints lack adequate clarity of both an effective process to select library books and an effective process to handle challenges to library books.

District staff conducted a review of various vendors who recommend library books to schools and determined the risk of the introduction of inappropriate material will always exist from external vendors absent of a strengthened selection policy.

The review committee is recommending that the district incorporates a “Library Book Permission Form” into the existing Focus Parent Portal so that parents can electronically select/change the level of access their child will have to books in the library/media center. Examples may include: parents may choose to prohibit their child from checking out books, restrict access to certain books for their child, allow their child to borrow from an older school type, or have access to restricted materials. Incorporate the form into the “Instructional Materials Plan” and/or the “Code of Student Conduct.”

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