Despite task force recommendation, school board delays vote on questioned books

Despite the findings of an Osceola School District committee that reviewed the books community members have questioned — and some are asking to be banned outright — the school board suspended a vote on Tuesday to accept the committee’s findings according to which books, with mature content, should remain on the school library shelves.

Instead of voting on whether to accept the committee’s findings, as well as a separate item to approve the district’s “Proposed Guidelines for Books with Mature Content,” the board opted – after sometimes heated discussion – to delay all votes until a workshop is held to further discuss, well, all of that.

The four tracks reviewed were “All Boys Aren’t Blue”, “Looking for Alaska”, “Out of Darkness”, and “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl”.

While board member Julius Melendez struck a chord over a lack of “due diligence and process” in the matter, his colleague Jon Arguello had issues with the majority of the 15 review committee members being women. school district employees.

“If I were a district employee, I would absolutely do as I was told, or be subject to some kind of payback,” he said. We’re going to get the result we’ve all been waiting for, all those pounds stay. I don’t think it’s a fair process.

“The arguments for leaving these books in schools is that they haven’t been vetted…in a district that’s not doing well academically, having books that aren’t focused on possibility to improve their performance is probably not the best use of public funds.”

Michelle Jarrett, media supervisor for the district library, noted community members and parents on the Student Advisory Committee (SAC) who were not employees.

“Board procedures were followed, and professionals who represent English teachers and media specialists were part of this committee, and I believe they worked with integrity, I am proud of the work they have done. done,” she said. “They read the books carefully and there were lively discussions.”

Melendez said he wanted to see the standards for what the committee read, why they voted the way they did, and to be able to read what parents found objectionable.

“I take the recommendations into consideration and I want to see this form of evaluation,” he said. “I want to look at the standards and the score sheets and make my decision from there.”

Board chairman Terry Castillo said no parent had filed a formal complaint using the district’s procedure, and that Superintendent Debra Pace and the school board had agreed to remove the titles because of the opinion. public – months ago parents read graphic passages from some of these books during public comment. in meetings – and subjected them to scrutiny.

“There are people who want to ban them regardless,” Castillo said. “So we chose not to follow our own protocols because some didn’t like the result. To date, the books in question have not been protested through the District’s official process. The books should remain in our libraries as suggested by the committee.”

Out of 16 reviews for each book, the review board recorded three votes for deletion. ‘Not All Boys Are Blue’ and one to remove ‘Out of Darkness’ from school shelves – 15 voted that the latter should remain on the shelves of the high school library.

Some of the exam papers had notes. About ‘Looking for Alaska’, one wrote: ‘I think this book is for a very mature audience, ages 17+, who can capture the best of the intentions of the author and come out with light and no more darkness.”

Notes on “Not All Boys Are Blue” include: “Voting must be available for 11th and 12th graders” and “In high schools with mature etiquette.”

Writing about “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl”: “Compared to the other books, it was more light-hearted and down-to-earth, and I think there are worse things than reading this book. For that reason , I’d say it’s OK in high school, though, with parents’ permission and only for 10-12 year olds because of the vulgarity.”

For a complete list of exam results, Click here.

For proposed guidelines for books with adult content, Click here.

Colin L. Johnson