TIP FROM PARENT 12-19-22
Today I met with the DCS Book Review Committee and I don’t expect to have good news. First of all I was mis-led at the first meeting to expect that this meeting would actually be a dialogue with the committee. I was told when I arrived that it was a dialogue but only between committee members. I called foul as I was told by the principal at the first meeting that this would be a dialogue between myself and the committee. I then protested that some of the members of this committee were not present at the first meeting and I as a result I was not able to fully present my case to all of the committee. Of course these objections were not embraced by the members of the committee. The principal indicated that the committee was following Board Policy 9130, which was noted on the cover sheet of the information packet given to me at the first meeting. Examining Policy 9130 it is not stated anywhere that participation in the second meeting by the complainant was not allowed. Buried in the information packet was the “procedure” for the first and second meetings and because this was not reviewed in the first meeting I would have no idea of its existence. In fact if I didn’t ask prior to the first meeting if I would be able to participate I would not have known that I had 15 minutes to speak at the first meeting as per the “procedure”. But enough of that. The first committee member to speak was Kate Wilker, the middle school librarian. She said that books are screened several times for their adherence to the standards and alignment with the content and curriculum. Books are purchased locally from Bean Bag Books and ordered through Tidal Wave Books who have reviews from several different publishers. I spoke up, even though I wasn’t supposed to by commenting that publishers are only interested in selling books and that a review from a publisher would not be a fair assessment of the subject matter of the book. Kate later spoke up saying that she mis-spoke earlier when she said that they look at the reviews from the publishers but she “reads“ reviews from different journals and magazines and when you look at what they posted the book has been recommended for grades 9 and up. The principal said that there are no “periods” where students go to the library but go there for research. He said the Science teacher could take a class to the library but to do research and rarely are books checked out. He then said that there is only one copy of Gender Queer and he was the only one who has checked the book out. (In fact the book has been checked out 3-times). School Board member Michael Weiner spoke up saying that as an attorney this book was not child pornography and under the Ohio Revised Code was not pandering and was not criminal to make it available to students. He said that this would not be their first exposure to these topics and that it is sending the wrong message to our “minority” students. The parent member of this committee, Abby Kumpf, admitted that the images alone in the book could be upsetting and the one that is more offensive, with the strap-on was a consensual sexual relationship and that after the couple engaged in this activity they decided they didn’t like it. It was a consensual relationship between two people and she thinks that it is healthy. She continued by saying that after reading this book she better understands this segment of our society that’s very difficult for her to understand because she hasn’t walked in their shoes and this helps her understand. Next, The Science teacher, Riley Jantz spoke up and said that he would find it difficult to remove this book from the library because students spend the vast majority of their time on their phones encountering information, images and ideas that are on orders of magnitude far worse than this and that are sincerely problematic. There can be an avenue where students can learn about these things in a controlled environment and that should be a route they can take. Nobody is making them read this book and he thinks that it is a good option to have. Removing this book begins a slippery slope of where does it stop? Do we remove all of the books in the library for someone having an issue with it? I would worry about that. I then spoke up again saying that it is interesting that Olentangy, Big Walnut and Buckeye Valley have all banned this book from their libraries I said that Olentangy Schools has one of the most robust DEI programs in Central Ohio yet they felt it inappropriate. The principal then said that the committee members need to reach a decision about this book by evaluating it on the 4 criteria they are to be guided being, 1) Appropriateness of the material. 2) Accuracy of the material. 3) Objectivity of the material, and 4) Use of the material. He instructed the committee to send him an email as to how they voted and he would pass the recommendation on to the Superintendent for review with the School Board who will make the decision. Michael Weiner spoke up suggesting that the vote be done on paper and turned-in to the office so it would not be in an email and subject to public records request. The principal agreed. Abby Kumpf had one last question asking if the Bible was in the library. The principal noted that that was a question that came up in the first meeting and I said no, nor is the Quran. My final comment was to ask each member of the committee, “At what age do you think that it is appropriate to show your daughter a picture of someone getting a blow-job?” The principal reiterated that again the book is in the library and is not pushed onto anybody. To which I replied its in the library! The meeting was adjourned. After the meeting I had a sidebar conversation with the principal and asked him why websites designed to review books for their age-appropriateness are not used in reviewing books for the library? He asked what the websites were and I said they are in the fact sheet I brought to use in dialogue which he made copies of to distribute to each of the committee members, if they ever get them. I then asked when I would hear what the decision was and he said that he should have the votes in the next few days and that the decision would probably be announced at the next school board meeting. I reminded him that Policy 9130 clearly indicates that the Superintendent will communicate in writing to the complainant the recommendation of the committee and advise the Board of the action taken or recommended. He acknowledged this would happen. Sorry this is such a long message but I wanted to try and give as much information as I could. I will let you know of the decision (recommendation) this committee has made as soon as I receive it but as you can see it probably will not be in our favor and more importantly in the students favor.