Parents who want to allow their students to read any of the 16 Polk School Libraries books that have been challenged by a conservative group will have to opt-in for their students to use an online form, according to a process outlined in a session. school board work on Tuesday. .
Superintendent Frederick Heid outlined his procedures on Tuesday for parents to agree or refuse to let their students read certain books. The 16 books in question were recently reviewed by district review boards after the books’ content was called pornographic or harmful by school board members and a local group.
The school board did not need to vote on Heid’s process, and few conversations were spent on procedure.
“There’s no vote on that,” Heid said. “There’s nothing else coming before the board, we’ve been talking about this ad-nauseum topic for the last six to eight months.”
None of the board members commented on the proceedings. Public comments were also not part of the workshop meeting before Tuesday’s plenary session.
Opt-in or opt-out procedures were placed in school board member kits along with workshop and meeting agendas.
According to the procedure, parents can allow students to view any of the disputed books through the parent portal account by filling out a disclaimer.
“Of the 16 titles reviewed in 2022, only titles for the student’s grade level will currently appear” and parents must check the box next to the title if they wish to allow their students to view the book, per the procedure.
The school district also offers parents the option of denying their children reading any book in their school libraries.
In late 2021, the conservative group County Citizens Defending Freedom identified 16 books that the group said were objectionable and available at PCPS media centers, the Ledger previously reported.
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The disputed books were:
- “Almost Perfect” by Brian Katcher.
- “Beloved” by Toni Morrison.
- “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison.
- “Drama” by Raina Telgemeier.
- “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Foer.
- “George” by Alex Gino.
- “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings
- “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robbie Harris.
- “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.
- Happier Than Not by Adam Silvera.
- “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult.
- “Real Boyfriends Live” by E. Lockhart.
- “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher.
- “Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins.
- “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan.
- The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines.
Although none of the books are required reading in the district, the CCDF said the books are “harmful to children” or meet the definition of pornography under Florida State Statutes 847.001 and 847.012. Distributing pornography to minors is a third degree felony.
As a result, two committees each reviewed eight of the disputed books. Members of the committees included academics, media specialists, English teachers, parents and child psychologists, among other adults as well as high school students.
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The committees recommended that the 16 books remain in the media centers at least in some classes.
The new procedure will be available for parents to register or not from August 1-15 and again from January 1-15.
If students transfer or register outside of both windows, parents will be asked to contact the school library media specialist to add their information to the system.
Library staff will receive training on how to access information. Books from the 2022 journal will be placed behind the circulation desk.