NEW YORK, February 8, 2023 – The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) today demanded that officials in a western Michigan school district investigate whether their superintendent secretly ordered the removal of books, violating a policy that requires a formal review before a book is banned. They also pointed officials to an audio recording in which a man who has been identified as Daniel Behm, the Forest Hills Public Schools superintendent, acknowledges that he instructed Assistant Superintendent Scott Haid to “find where they are, pull ‘em out, get rid of ‘em.” (Please click on the media player below.)
The recording was posted on Facebook last fall by Stefanie Boone, a leader in the effort to ban books in the district. In the post, which doesn’t say where or when the recording was made, she identifies Behm as the speaker. Behm was apparently addressing a parent.
“I have no desire for that in any of our schools,” Behm said, referring to what he calls “R-rated” books. “I find it embarrassing that those things are there…I don’t need you or some other parent to have the burden of coming in to go through some bureaucratic process. We have the authority as administrators to just pull them. So, I said [to Haid] go find where they are, pull ’em out, get rid of ’em.”
“This is the kind of thing that is happening all over the country,” NCAC Executive Director Christopher Finan said. “School officials are violating their review policies and pulling books that have been carefully chosen by educators.”
Behm’s actions are a blatant violation of the school district’s review policy, Board Policy 5407-AG, which requires a reconsideration committee to make a recommendation to the Board Curriculum Committee. The superintendent has no role in the review process.
In a letter sent today, NCAC demands that the Forest Hills Public School Board investigate, determine what books have been improperly removed, and return them to the library shelves immediately.
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 thelocal level. It encourages and facilitates dialogue between diverse voices and perspectives, including those that have historically been silenced.