Updated 4/12/2023 – In March, Superintendent Dan Behm issued a public apology for removing -books from school libraries. Some of the removed books have been returned to some or all the districts’ libraries and are now available to students. However, others remain missing. The district is reportedly revising its policy for challenging books.
As of March 30, 2023, Forest Hills Public Schools Superintendent Dan Behm has announced his retirement at the end of the school year.
NEW YORK 2/17/2023 – On February 17, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) delivered a letter to the Forest Hills Public School Board in Grand Rapids, Michigan, identifying 10 books that were secretly removed by Superintendent Dan Behm in violation of the school district’s reconsideration policy.
In a previous letter, NCAC had alerted the board to the existence of a recording in which the superintendent could be heard saying that he had ordered an administrator to remove books with “R-rated” content without submitting them for review by a reconsideration committee. Behm responded in a letter to parents in the district, denying that he had banned books. He insisted that he had merely “weeded” some old books that were no longer being used. He did acknowledge that some of the books were controversial but did not identify them.
NCAC has learned from two sources that the books that were removed are titles that are frequently challenged around the country, including The Handmaid’s Tale: The Graphic Novel by Margaret Atwood, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, Nineteen Minutes: A Novel by Jodi Picoult, It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris, Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher, and Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.
In its Feb. 17 letter, NCAC once again urged the school board to investigate the superintendent’s actions and return the banned books to library shelves.
About National Coalition Against Censorship
Since its inception in 1974, the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) has been a first responder in protecting freedom of expression, a fundamental human right and a keystone of democracy. Representing 59 national education, publishing, and arts organizations, NCAC works with people fighting censorship at the local level. It encourages and facilitates dialogue between diverse voices and perspectives, including those that have historically been silenced.