Efforts to Censor or Ban Extremely Rare Books in Fargo Public Schools | The mighty 790 KFGO

FARGO (KFGO) – A recent study of PEN America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting free speech, found that censorship and book bans in public schools across the country have grown at a rapid pace this school year, and recent local reports have raised the specter of the issue, especially as it relates to the impending school board election in Fargo. But Fargo public school officials say they haven’t seen any indication of that trend here.

Dr. Liann Hanson is the District’s Director of Standards-Based Education. She says the FPS has only received one request for a formal book review in the 2021-22 school year. She says there is a process for reviewing hardware, and it usually doesn’t go beyond the initial stages.

“The first part of the request is to have a conversation with the school administration, and I know that the principals have had conversations with the parents and if it is a need that they can solve in the building, We can do it. And it’s more of that informal part of the process. So usually I saw it stop there,” she said.

Hanson says parents who want a book on the shelves must provide a reason specific to their own child’s needs.

“They can’t just do one shot of ‘I want this book taken out of North High, or Eagles Elementary.’ They have the right to request a review, but it must directly concern their child,” she said.

When asked if the district had made any changes to its book selection process due to the perceived chilling effect parent protests about certain books might have had, Hanson said:

“We have not. We continue to support all students in our buildings, and we will continue to purchase equipment that represents our diverse population and diverse student needs, so we continue to support all children in this way” , she said.

Hanson says the school board is not involved in selecting or reviewing materials, only in setting the policy of the process.

Colin L. Johnson