NCAC has been informed by the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression that the Santa Fe Independent School District has imposed restrictions on the use of J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter books. Parental permission is now required to borrow the Potter books from school libraries.
As ABFFE president Chris Finan points out in a letter to Superintendent Richard Ownby, "Although requiring parental permission stops short of a total ban, we believe that this restriction denies many children the opportunity to encounter some extraordinary books that they may otherwise never know. The Potter books have been widely credited with encouraging children to put aside the flashy attractions of video games and other technological marvels. They are discovering the joys of reading and using their imaginations. Booksellers have seen the evidence of this transformation with their own eyes.
"Despite the bestselling status of the Potter books, most kids have never read one. Many parents have never heard of them, and many who have cannot afford to buy them in a bookstore. Public schools and libraries are the only hope that these children have of discovering Harry Potter for themselves."
Since the Potter books have been presumably removed from the open shelves of the school libraries and are available only when a child presents a permission slip, they are therefore unavailable for browsing, nor can they be brought home for examination by parents. We believe the school district’s actions may violate the First Amendment, and that in any event public schools have the obligation to provide access to books like Harry Potter in the library.
As Finan’s letter points out, a decision to ban Harry Potter books in Zeeland, Michigan, was overturned last year after protests by parents, students, and teachers. If you wish to express your opinion in this matter, you can do so by contacting:
Richard Ownby, Superintendent Santa Fe ISD
Denise Cowart, Board President
Robin Clayton, Board Vice-President
Vince Megale, Board Secretary
Bruce Wayne Blankenship
Myrl Cabe III
John F. Couch II
Dr. Mary Jane Garza, Principal, Santa Fe Junior High
Cheryl Fowler, Principal, Santa Fe Elementary North
Debra King, Principal, R.J. Wollam Elementary
Gary Causey, Principal, Santa Fe High School
Cindy Stamps, Principal, Santa Fe Intermediate
Earl Routh, Principal, Santa Fe Elementary South
All can be reached c/o Santa Fe Independent School District, PO Box 370, Santa Fe TX 77510-0370