BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WSAV) — Some Beaufort County parents want books they deem “indecent” or “inappropriate” to be taken off school shelves.
The school district listens to complaints and reviews them, but the final decision about what should or shouldn’t be in the libraries will not rest with them alone.
These decisions will be in the hands of the commissions. The committees are made up of teachers, school officials, local parents and ordinary citizens.
“His arms wrap around me and his hands go straight to my boobs” Joe Castanino read aloud at the Beaufort County Board of Education meeting in October.
That passage was from the book Tricks, a best-selling book about teenage prostitution that Castanino said his son bought from the May River High School library.
This resulted in 97 books found in local school libraries being temporarily removed from the shelves. These reviews will begin with the first four books and committees on Thursday.
“These books contain objectionable material,” explained Dr. Mary Stratas, Beaufort County Schools’ Chief Instructional Officer. “So let’s stop at the district level and put everything in place for review.”
The Handmaid’s Tale, The Perks of Being a Squirrel, Talkers, and The Kite Runner are the first four books to be reviewed. The district said that’s partly because they’re used in some Advanced Placement classes.
As recommended by the South Carolina Department of Education, committees should include an odd number of the following members: at least one teacher with content area or grade level experience; at least one school librarian; at least one school administrator; at least one parent representing the school family other than the applicant; at least one community member; at least one district-level director or coordinator with content area experience; and at least one member of the School Improvement Council (SIC) in the district.
Committee members will be instructed to read the assigned book in its entirety and then meet as a group to share and discuss the results. The value of a book must be considered as a whole, considering the impact of the whole work, not individual words, phrases, and incidents.
“It is necessary to draw a line whether they support the academic education of children,” he said
Former South Carolina State School Principal.
Barbara Nielsen, a former South Carolina state school principal, believes that any review should begin with instruction, not literature.
“We have standards that we have to teach, math, social studies and so on,” Nielsen said. “Does the book live up to those standards. Is it appropriate for the age group it is in.”
The 97 books on the list come from a rating system by Moms for Freedom, a group that works to remove books they deem “offensive” from schools.
While Nielsen believes that we need to make sure that children do not have easy access to inappropriate material, these committees need to make sure that they do not take away books that are of value to students.
“There was one book that upset people because it was about bullying,” Nielsen said. “Well, the bullying of people at school continues. If this happens and the child reads it. It can give them something that they can help deal with.”
“We live in a society today where people can’t seem to agree on anything. If we have to agree on something, it’s about our children.”
Beaufort County Schools say the committee’s recommendation will result in the book being put back on the shelves or permanently removed.
The Review Committee will complete its review and issue a written report within fifteen business days. A copy of the report must be sent to the applicant, the principal and the teaching council.
If the Materials Review Committee recommends removal of the material in question, BCSD must ensure that there are no other copies in school library circulation within BCSD for the school level(s) for which removal was recommended.
No matter what happens, these books will not be challenged for five years.
The district hopes to complete the entire process early next year.