The National Coalition Against Censorship has delivered a letter to the Auburn Enlarged City School District Board in Auburn, New York, in response to proposed amendments to its Instructional Materials and Controversial Issues policy that will allow parents to limit access to school library materials. Policy amendments are in response to complaints made early this year about All Boys Aren’t Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto, by George M. Johnson. Attempts to ban Johnson’s book failed, and proposals to amend the district’s material review policy began shortly thereafter.
NCAC urges the Auburn Enlarged City School District Board to strengthen its Instructional Materials and Controversial Issues policy (Policy 8330) by adding separate evaluation guidelines to minimize the risk of violating laws.
Under Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, (1982), a school district’s power to remove books from a school library is far more limited than its power to select books for that library. Specifically, the Pico court held that public schools may not remove books due to disagreement with the political perspectives or ideas contained within them because “students must always remain free to inquire, to study, and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding” and “the school library is the principal locus of such freedom.”
Therefore, the District’s new policy should ensure that committee members understand the limits on their power. To guide them, Policy #8330 should affirmatively state that when a resource is challenged, the principles of free expression and free inquiry will be prioritized.
Please read our full letter to the School Board below. Click here for a full screen view: