Revising School Policy on Book Review Process

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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Loudoun County School Board member John Stevens (Potomac) posted this item Tuesday on his blog, Our Loudoun Schools, describing his proposals to change the school system's policy on book challenges.

Tonight I provided to my colleagues a proposed revision to policy 5-7D, Procedure for Review of Challenged Materials. These policy changes do not directly address the question of the book "And Tango Makes Three." They do ensure that in the future the superintendent cannot act unilaterally or outside of . . . policy, and that no book will be removed without an opportunity for the public to provide input to its elected representatives.

These revisions implement three major improvements. First, they make binding the decision of the review committees designated by the school principal or the division superintendent. Second, they provide for School Board review of any decision to remove instructional material from libraries or the curriculum and require public input prior to removal of materials. Finally, they provide clarity on the status of materials after they have been removed.

The removal of a book, without an opportunity for public comment and against the recommendation of instructional professionals and members of the community, by the superintendent who appointed them is made possible by a policy created by an earlier, unelected School Board. The addition of previously restricted materials to a library or the curriculum without review is made possible by a policy created by that School Board. It is the responsibility of this School Board to address these problems.

I make this recommendation after reviewing the policies of school districts around the region and around the country and after consulting with the Virginia School Boards Association and the American Library Association. I hope that my colleagues will approve this policy change and that Dr. [Edgar] Hatrick will submit his recommendation to restrict access to "And Tango Makes Three" in Sugarland Elementary School to the School Board for review.

The Legislative Policy Committee will review this proposal on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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