DEARBORN, Mich. – In line with growing scrutiny across the U.S. over school library books and their appropriateness, Dearborn Public Schools has developed a committee that will review existing and potential literary additions that are of concern to parents.
Parents 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. Shortly after the district formed its Book Reconsideration Committee, a parent brought six books to the district’s attention, requesting they be reevaluated.
Those six books include:
- “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.
The novels in question range greatly in topics, but romance and sexual identity are common themes in most of them. Some of these books have been questioned already at other schools, as the effort to ban and restrict books in the U.S. surges this year.
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.
The topic of banning or questioning books in the school libraries has been controversial for parents and families in the Dearborn Public Schools district. A board of education meeting was held on Monday, Oct. 10, in which the topic was discussed, and the meeting had to be recessed early due to an “unruly” crowd that grew past the occupancy limit of the fire code.
The district has since rescheduled the meeting for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 13, with a larger venue -- the Stout Middle School auditorium -- to accommodate hundreds of parents and guardians. The public comments portion of the meeting alone is expected to take more than three hours.
How the review process works
A Dearborn parent with an issue with a book must first 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 members. 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.