The National Coalition Against Censorship has written to the School Board of Central Bucks School District in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, after recent proposed changes to the District’s Library Materials Policy raised serious censorship concerns. The Board voted to adopt the policy on July 26, 2022.
The policy leaves the authority to remove materials in the hands of a single person. NCAC urges districts to avoid this type of decision-marking. Our best practices advise school districts that administrators may lack the time and expertise necessary to review library materials carefully and without personal bias. It is therefore advisable to have a diverse body of qualified educational professionals make up a review committee. This committee may include a teacher, administrator, librarian, community member, parent, and even an older student.
The freedom of an entire community of students to read cannot be dictated by the personal beliefs of a few. By enacting the proposed policy, Central Bucks County School District sets the stage to undermine the First Amendment rights of its students. The Supreme Court declared in Board of Education v. Pico (1982), that “school boards may not remove books from library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books.” However, vague and undefined terms in Central Bucks’ policy like “sexualized” and “inappropriate” content suggest that the policy will be used to do just that, and suppress ideas that this single administrator dislikes.
NCAC reminds the District of their obligations under Pico, and has provided them with a copy of our guidelines for administrators.
Please read our full letter, co-signed by PEN America, to the School Board below. Click here for a full screen view: