Walker Co. mother addresses school board over “vulgar” books

Parent says some books available for students are "inappropriate," contain questionable content

UPDATE: News 12 Now received a response from the Walker County School Board concerning Mrs. Smeiles’ presentation at their June 20 meeting.

“The Superintendent and Board members welcome and appreciate feedback from our community.  We will review the details provided in the presentation made available this evening. We currently have a procedure in place for the review of materials in our media centers for parents and guardians of students enrolled in the Walker County School District and we welcome the opportunity to work together in addressing any of their concerns.”

Damon Raines, Walker County Schools Superintendent

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LAFAYETTE, Georgia (WDEF) — The Walker County School Board got an earful tonight from one parent.

Jennifer Smeiles pulled her children out of Walker County Schools shortly after the pandemic began.

They have since been homeschooled.

Despite this, she did some research into what students in the local school system have to read.

Smeiles saw videos online of parents elsewhere in the country expressing concern over certain books that made their way into their schools’ libraries.

Not believing Walker County had anything shocking to offer, Smeiles began her investigation and proved herself wrong.

She said what she found “broke her heart.”

“What I found has been vulgar,” Smeiles said. “It’s been inappropriate on many different levels. It’s racist, it’s overtly sexual, it’s abusive. It’s over-excessive drug abuse. There’s just so much that’s there that parents need to know about.”

Smeiles says new standards need to be set allowing parents to oversee what their kids can read.

Her solution also introduces a rating system on books for children similar to R-rated movies and M-rated video games.

“We should use those same types of standards to be able to say this book is not appropriate for children under 17, for children under 13, for elementary students,” Smeiles said. “There are standards that are well-accepted that we should be using.”

Maureen Rauscher has had four kids go through the Walker County school system that have long since graduated.

When asked how she would respond if one of her children brought home a book with “explicit sexual activities, inflammatory racial commentary” and/or “frequent profanity,” she said she wouldn’t know how to respond.

“Our schools, there’s no place for that — zero, like, zero tolerance,” Rauscher said. “There’s no reason for schools to have any of that kind of stuff. Our children don’t need to be reading that kind of stuff, let alone without parental guidance. We’re parents — it’s our job to teach our children these types of things.”

Smeiles and Rauscher both say should any solution be created that parents are in favor of, the board must enforce it for the sake of the children.

Three of the books found in Walker County schools Smeiles specifically listed were “Sold” by Patricia McCormick, “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, and “Tricks” by Ellen Hopkins

She says the books create a “harmful issue” in Walker County schools, as they contain “explicit sexual activities, violence, alcohol use, inflammatory racial commentary, frequent profanity” and more.

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