School Board Chair Proposes Committee to Review Students’ Books, Receives Bipartisan Support

HAMILTON COUNTY (WDEF) – Groups of Hamilton County parents and school board members have faced off this year over the presence of books in schools that contain profanity and topics some individuals say are inappropriate for children. These words may be offensive to some viewers.

“This language is unacceptable. Our job as a school board is to train students to be productive members of society and there’s no way you can keep a job and use language like this and there’s absolutely no reason for it,” says school board member Rhonda Thurman.

But how the books got inside the schools and who approved them is still unclear. “We’re not even sure who vets those books, whether they’ve been vetted at all,” says Thurman. Organized parents’ groups debated at school board meetings with some board members enthusiastically taking sides.

So to address the issue and what seems to be a systemic confusion on books are selected, school board chair Tucker Mclendon is proposing a special panel be established. “What we’re doing as a board is putting together a committee to study the books that are in our libraries, how they get there, do we need some kind of rating system, just a way for parents to understand exactly what it is their children are checking out of the library,” says school board member Joe Smith.

School board involvement has reached an all time high. Some education officials say this is because at-home learning that COVID required allowed parents to listen in on and collaborate with their children’s school work. Both sides of the book debate has parents passionately advocating for their children’s learning and it seems a desire for this committee comes from both sides of the aisle.

“You know, you’ll get a lot of different opinions and I just hope we get a good sampling across the county. There will be some that are pro and some that are con,” says Thurman.

The committee proposal says each of the nine board members will be able to select two individuals each to be on the committee. The vote is Thursday night.

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