Florida superintendent suspends library purchases to ensure ‘safety’ of media workers | Overview of censorship

New policies impact school library purchases in Pennsylvania and Florida; a district in Texas cancels its school book fairs for the year; and a South Carolina state senator is threatening to eliminate the salaries of public library executives in his county in the latest censorship roundup.

Superintendent suspends book purchases to ensure ‘safety’ of media specialists

Collier County (FL) Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Kamela Patton told Fox4 she is trying to keep the district’s media specialists ‘safe’, so they can’t order new books now due to a lack of state guidance.

“We are waiting to see which person from the media center in the schools will now be responsible for certifying all the books we order,” Patton said.

School board president Jen Mitchell told Fox4 the board will meet and finalize the guidelines in September.

Florida House Bill 1467, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis effective July 1, 2022, requires the Florida Department of Education to create “an online training program for school librarians, media specialists, and other members of the staff involved in the selection and maintenance of library media and collections. or documents kept on a reading list. Starting January 1, 2023, media center employees must complete the online program before reviewing and selecting age-appropriate library materials and resources.

Sarasota County (FL) School District officials signaled a similar decision to halt all book purchases and donations through January 2023 to give the Florida Department of Education time to communicate additional guidance. , according to Sarasota Herald-Tribune. District spokesperson Kelsey Whealy said while previously scheduled book fairs will continue as planned, new ones may not be scheduled until the spring.

Central Bucks, PA librarians will need approval for purchases

In a 6-3 vote, the Central Bucks School District (PA) School Board approved a policy requiring the superintendent or other designees to approve all school library purchases, according to the Philadelphia plaintiff.

The board’s policy states that “Sexual content that falls outside of content prohibited by criminal laws is nevertheless generally inappropriate and/or unnecessary for minors in school.” The district will prioritize the inclusion of quality materials appropriate for educational purposes and useful for the limited time available to students that do not contain sexualized content.

Superintendent Abram Lucabaugh told the Applicant that he will appoint “a handful” of administrators, teachers, librarians and education professionals to develop a process for parents to challenge reading material, and guidelines for determining what can be considered as “free and age-inappropriate content” when selecting school library books.

In a letter posted on the district’s website, Lucabaugh wrote, “One of the misinterpretations of the policy is that the proposed wording means books with sexual content of any kind would be at risk of being pulled from shelves. from the library. This is not the case. Books such as The bluest eye by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, which chronicles the real-life horror of racism and sexual abuse, belongs in our school libraries on an age-appropriate level. So the classics like The scarlet letter or an illustrated reference book on anatomy.

District of Texas removes books previously approved for reconsideration

Keller (TX) Independent School District officials sent district superintendents and librarians an email before the first day of school ordering them to remove 41 contested titles last year. A reconsideration committee had previously voted to keep most of the disputed credentials available to students in the district, but due to new school board policies passed Aug. 8, they had to be reconsidered, according to the WFAA.

According to the district, the books will be returned to shelves as soon as it is determined that they meet the new acquisition and review policies. Titles under review originally included Diary of Anne Frank: the graphic adaptation and the Bible, but both have since been recirculated.

Keller ISD Board Policy states: “Before any material is selected for inclusion, library material must have been reviewed and recommended for inclusion by the district level library supervisor or persons designated by this supervisor.”

It also requires the district-level librarian or other designated person to submit a list of new acquisitions to the superintendent who must make the list available for a 30-day public review period, followed by review by the school board. , before purchasing any equipment.

According to board policy, “Documents that are in the challenge process shall be removed from shelves and made available only in a parental consent area until the challenge process is complete.”

School book fairs canceled

Grapevine-Colleyville (TX) school district officials have canceled school book fairs at schools in the district this school year, citing concerns about students buying books that are not “age-appropriate.” , according to the WFAA.

According to the district, two students purchased adult titles at a school book fair in the spring. School book fairs often feature adult books for sale aimed at teachers, parents and other volunteers, the society said.

In an email, the district said its request for a full list of books available for purchase had not been received from Scholastic. The book seller said that at the time the request was made, the district was looking for more information than the company had “readily available,” according to NBC-DFW.

“We were actively working on a larger solution when they made their decision,” the Scholastic statement continued. “We also offered to deliver the fair early so they could personally review the selection/merchandising.”

State senator publicly threatens salaries of public library directors

South Carolina State Senator Josh Kimbrell stood in front of the Spartanburg County (SC) Public Library headquarters branch and called for some books to be removed from the children’s section, according to WYFF4 . He was joined by members of the Palmetto Family Council. Titles include My Way: Celebrating Gender Freedom for Children by Jay Hulme and The book of pronouns: her, him, them and me! by Cassandra Jules Corrigan.

If the books were not removed, he threatened to author an amendment to the state constitution to reimburse the salaries of library executives.

Spartanburg County Library Director Todd Stephens told WYFF4 that Kimbrell’s public complaint about a children’s book last May led to the book’s removal. According to WIS News 10, Kimbrell claims to have received hundreds of complaints from constituents about children’s books available in the public library. Stephens said since January he had received six complaints about “LGBTQ+ positive” books, according to the article.

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