Live stream: Dearborn school board reconvenes for meeting amid library book controversy

6 books to be reviewed by new committee after parent expresses concern

DEARBORN, Mich. – After cutting their first meeting short on Monday, Dearborn Public Schools is hosting a board meeting Thursday evening amid controversy over a new effort to reevaluate library books for age-appropriateness.

The district’s board of education will reconvene at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, in the auditorium of Stout Middle School in Dearborn. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The space is expected to fit more than 600 attendees, but overflow seating will also be available in the school’s cafeteria and gymnasium, where the meeting will be live streamed.

We’ll carry the live stream here in this article. Watch live beginning at 7 p.m.

The meeting was initially scheduled for Monday, Oct. 10, but it was forced to recess due to an “unruly” crowd that had surpassed the maximum occupancy limit under the fire code. A fire marshal shut down the meeting, where tensions were running high.

See: Fire marshal ends Dearborn school board meeting early due to disorderly crowd

District officials planned to continue the meeting on Thursday at Fordson High School, but later changed the location due to scheduling conflicts. The meeting will now be held at the middle school, and is expected to last for several hours.

Officials say the public comments portion of the meeting is likely to take more than three hours alone.

Anyone is welcome to speak at Thursday’s meeting. Those who submit a blue card by 7:10 p.m. Thursday, or those who submitted one during Monday’s meeting, will be speaking first. After that list of speakers is exhausted, anyone will be welcome to speak, officials said.

Each speaker will have three minutes to express their opinions.

The meeting comes after the district established a new committee dedicated to reviewing existing school library books and new additions for age-appropriateness. The move is in line with a surging effort to ban or restrict books in school libraries across the U.S.

Click here to learn more about the committee.

Library books containing LGBTQ subject matter or romantic subject matter are specifically being scrutinized by parents and the public. The same is true at Dearborn Public Schools, whose new Book Reconsideration Committee is reviewing six novels, of which several cover such topics.

A Dearborn parent expressed concern over the following six books, which will be the first that the new committee reviews:

  • “Push” by Sapphire;
  • “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold;
  • “Eleanor and Park” by Rainbow Rowell;
  • “Red, White and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston;
  • “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson; and
  • “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson.

Parents and guardians of children at Dearborn schools can now request the district to review a book, or books, that they’re concerned about to see if they should be removed from the shelves. The superintendent of Dearborn Public Schools said that the committee does not promise to remove all books brought to their attention, but requests for review will be considered.

“We will not promise to remove every book because we know different parents have different opinions about some materials. But we do promise to take the time to reevaluate items parents may be concerned about if they reach out to the media specialist,” said Superintendent Glenn Maleyko.

Here’s how the review process works:

  • First, a Dearborn parent with an issue with a book must speak to the school’s principal and its media specialist.
  • Then, the issue will be brought to the book committee, which is comprised of school media specialists and administrative staff.
  • The committee will review the book and the parent’s challenge to determine if the book should be in the collection, and if it’s age-appropriate.

“We encourage our parents to work with the district if they have concerns about the age-appropriateness of particular items in our media centers. With nearly 500,000 books in our school libraries, it is possible something slipped in that shouldn’t be there, despite our best efforts,” Maleyko said. “The proper procedure to remove books is to bring that title to the attention of the media specialist at your child’s school, so we can begin the Book Challenge process.”

Depending on the outcome of a review, if a parent isn’t satisfied with the result, there is a second review process that includes parents, community members, a student and staff.

Click here to learn more about the district’s plan for evaluating new and existing library books.

More reading: Book ban efforts surging in 2022, library association says

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.