School board removes book from library

Content not suitable for students

By Terry Baver [email protected]

BROOKVILLE — A resident asked the Brookville Local Schools board of education the status of a book in the district’s intermediate/high school library that another resident at a previous board meeting stated was inappropriate for students.

At the November board meeting, Johnsville-Brookville Road resident Shawn Miller told the board the book, entitled Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, was filled with inappropriate language and sexual content that was not appropriate for students and should be immediately removed from the library.

Wolf Creek Pike resident Doug Gayman asked at the December board meeting the status of the book and similar books he said were in the school library.

“What has been done about these books? How did these books get into our library in the first place? What steps are being taken to safeguard our children from being exposed to this kind of explicit sexual material?” Gayman asked the board.

“Unfortunately, a month has passed and as a parent, I do not know the answer to these questions. I am in the dark,” Gayman said.

“I am calling on the school board and administration to do the right thing and notify parents and to be transparent and accountable. This is your job. You’re elected and entrusted to protect our children and ensure this kind of stuff doesn’t happen here,” Gayman continued.

Brookville Schools Superintendent Jason Wood said the intermediate/high school librarian was promptly contacted after Miller informed the board the book was in the library.

“Last month when it was brought to our attention about the book that was in the library, our administration did their due diligence and contacted (librarian) Mrs. (Jennifer) Davis,” Wood said.

Wood said Davis immediately removed the book from the library.

Board member Tim Denlinger confirmed Wood’s statement that the book was quickly removed from the library.

“That was taken care of that night. I talked to Mr. Miller an hour after the meeting about the book and then I got a phone call an hour after that from this group that they had contacted the librarian and the librarian took care of it two hours after we found out about it,” Denlinger said.

Wood said the book was purchased in 2013, prior to when Mrs. Davis was employed as the district’s librarian.

Wood also noted the book had not been checked out of the library in the past four years.

There was no indication during the board meeting that there were similar books in the school library.

“There have been books that have been audited basically because they were damaged or haven’t been checked out in quite some time and those books have been removed due to that,” Wood said.

Wood also said there was misinformation as to why the library was closed for a brief time.

“The library was shut down due to testing like it is every year,” Wood said.

Wood indicated the district is creating a committee that will review any book that a parent has labeled as questionable.

“We are putting together a committee by (curriculum director) Mrs. (Stephanie) Hinds, so any books we are made aware of as being questionable, that committee will review those books.

Wood said parents can alert the committee to any questionable books by using the district’s website.

“If there are any books you are aware of that are in the library, there is a form on the website that you fill out and the committee will be aware of it and conduct a deep review of the books,” Wood said.

“As an example, the book that was mentioned last month contained the “F” word numerous times. The “P” word was in there numerous times. Both words are inappropriate and don’t follow our policy or what we’re trying to do here at school,” Wood added.

Hinds said once the committee is made aware of a questionable book, it will begin reviewing the book.

“The committee looks at the dialogue, the content to make sure it meets academic standards.” Hinds said.

“If there is a concern about content in a book, we will be addressing it, perhaps removing it, perhaps keeping it. We also look at what grade levels are appropriate for the book,” Hinds continued.

Hinds said the committee will be comprised of parents, administrators and herself.

National Road resident Doug Clark said parents want to know the process the committee plans to use in its review of questionable books.

“I feel what we are looking for as a community are some of the guidelines that are going to go into this audit process,” Clark said.

“I don’t know if books have a specific rating system as a movie or video game, but I think you can put our minds at ease if you say these are the criteria that we are looking for when we put this committee together and we decide what books are going to be pulled or what books are going to stay, these are the criteria we are basing it on,” Clark said.

“This criteria and the decision on what is to be done with any questionable book the committee reviews should be shared with the public,” Clark added.

Miller, who said he appreciated the quick response in removing the book from the library, also voiced concern with “sexualizing children” in the district.

Miller said his daughter told him a teacher asked her “what her pronoun was.”

“To me this is nothing more than pushing the teacher’s ideology on minors. Stating your pronouns is supporting a false idea that gender is something to be declared or identified as rather than what it really is,” Miller said.

“When you are renewing teachers’ contract, how much time are you spending with teachers or are in their classrooms? Do you know what they are saying to students?” Miller asked.

“My son goes to school here and I don’t feel like anybody has tried to push any agenda on him.” Wood responded.

“We have board members with children in the district and I would think they’d echo the same thing. We also have staff members who have kids who have graduated from here. In no way shape or form is our staff trying to sexualize kids or teach divisive concepts in any way,” Wood added.

Wood noted if parents have a concern with a teacher, they are asked to follow the district’s chain of command.

“Make sure you reach out to the teacher if you have a concern and you feel like the teacher is doing something you don’t agree with or you question,” Wood said.

“If you don’t get satisfaction, make sure you reach out to the building administrator. If you don’t get satisfaction there, then reach out to myself. If you don’t get satisfaction there, you can reach out to the board members,” Wood continued.

“I ask that you do that. It’s OK that we have dialogue with one another, but I ask that you please follow the chain of command. Hopefully we can come to a resolution and do what’s best for kids,” Wood said.

Board president Judy Hoover explained why the board doesn’t respond to comments made by citizens during board meetings.

“The reason the board does not respond or engage is we gather the information. We hear your thoughts. We listen to your comments and then we refer them to the proper administrator. That’s our policy and procedure,” Hoover said.

Reach Terry Baver at (937) 833-2545 or via email at [email protected]

By Terry Baver [email protected]