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Escambia Public Schools Taking Steps to Address Disputed Books

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Escambia County Public Schools is in the process of refining the policies and procedures for school library/media center collection development and for reviewing titles submitted for reconsideration by a parent/guardian or community member.

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Escambia County Public Schools supports the principles of freedom of speech and the right to a redress of grievances inherent in the First Amendment of the United States, as well as appropriate Federal and State Statutes, and subsequent court decisions that have been rendered.  Because of this, any parent/guardian or resident of the county may raise objections to resources used in the educational program.  However, no parent/guardian or resident has the right to determine the reading, viewing, or listening resources for students other than their own children.

Escambia County Public Schools has for years had a process in place to review disputed book titles.  This process begins at the school level and includes the formation of a committee comprised of teachers, administrators, media specialists, community members and parents.  The committee will read the book in question and consider the complaint, collection development policy, professional reviews, professional opinions of other teachers, and the educational philosophy of the school district.  The complainant has the opportunity to appeal the decision to a district committee, and finally to the School Board if they are not satisfied with a decision.

“The School Board has the authority to remove books from its libraries; however, it cannot do so simply because it disagrees with the message of a book or it offends the personal morals of an individual,” said School Board General Counsel Ellen Odom.  “Through the review process, if the School Board determines that a particular book is pornographic or obscene, is not suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, is inappropriate for the grade level and age group for which the material is used, or is factually inaccurate or misleading, it can direct the removal of such book.”

Escambia County Public Schools is working on a revised school library collection development policy and educational media review policy to ensure consistency with the recently passed House Bill 1467, formally known as K-12 Educational Measure.  ECPS staff, in conjunction with the School Board, will hold a special workshop on October 10 at 8:00 am to discuss School Board Rule 4.06 – Educational Media Materials.