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Committees vote to return first four books to shelves

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From staff reports

The first four Beaufort County School District (BCSD) Library Materials Review Committees voted Thursday, Dec. 1, at Bluffton Middle School to return the books they were reviewing to the library shelves.

The committees voted unanimously to return The Handmaid’s Tale, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Kite Runner to the shelves for all grade levels, while voting to return Speak with a 4-1 vote.

The four books the committees were reviewing were chosen first because the particular titles are also utilized in some high school Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

The decisions could still face an appeal from the original complainant within seven days of the initial decision. The Board of Education would then have 15 days to rule.

As of press time, the district had not confirmed an appeal.

Ninety-seven books were removed from the shelves of libraries and classrooms in the BCSD and are to be reviewed for their appropriateness by the committees. The reviews were triggered by the complaints of a group of parents that the books were obscene and inappropriate, though the list of books is nearly identical to a list compiled by a political group, Mom’s For Liberty.

The committees must consist, per state guidelines, of a school librarian, a district teacher, a parent (other than the complainant), a school administrator, a district-level administrator, a community member and a member of a School Improvement Council in the district.

The committees are then randomly selected by Superintendent Frank Rodriguez and are tasked, according to the BCSD, “with reading their assigned book in full and then meeting as a group to share and discuss findings. The value of the book is to be examined as a whole, considering the impact of an entire work, transcending individual words, phrases, and incidents.”

The committees were to committee to complete their reviews utilizing the BCSD Review Committee Checklist and issue a written report of their findings to the appropriate parties, including the Superintendent and the Board of Education.

Two more committees were to commence last week, reviewing The Lovely Bones and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. According to BCSD Director of Communications Candace Bruder, those books were selected because of their print availability.

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