Martin County schools remove more than 80 book titles for sexual, racial content after complaints
MARTIN COUNTY — Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison and best-selling young-adult novelist Jodi Picoult are among authors whose works were among more than 80 book titles removed from the school district's middle and high schools last month.
Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved" had been on high school shelves. But no more. Books written by Picoult — including "My Sister's Keeper," "Lone Wolf," "House Rules" and "Keeping Faith" — also were removed from high schools after objections that the books were romance novels for adults, not children, according to district records.
"There are thousands of books to choose from that would be unobjectionable material of equal quality. However, as I am not a licensed teacher, librarian or media specialist, and have not had the time to consult with one, I will reserve that for them to find," wrote Stuart resident Julie Marshall, who filed most of the challenges. "This is something they should have been doing prior to this point in time instead of allowing these types of books into school libraries and forcing the (Florida Department of Education) to make laws and training to teach them what is appropriate for K-12 students. This should be common sense for what is and isn’t age appropriate."
Marshall was unavailable for comment Monday.
"Mighty Jack and the Goblin King" by Ben Hatke was the first book removed this year, taken off the shelf in removed in September.
Teachers and school staff were notified last week of the books that had been removed from campuses after challenges were filed with the school district. School media specialists and principals met with each person who filed a complaint.
Books remove:These books were removed from Martin County schools.
Blame placed on school librarians
Marshall told the School Board Feb. 21 that 99% of the challenged books contained sexually explicit content, blasting the school employees she held responsible.
"How did these disgusting books get in the schools in the first place?" Marshall asked. "If these librarians were doing their jobs and vetting the books properly, we wouldn't even be here right now."
Marshall told the board 140 challenges were filed in 13 of the district's schools. As of Feb. 21, 51 books had been removed and 10 books retained, she told the board.
Anyone can object to a book
Any parent or other community member can file a written objection to a book in the school district, district spokesperson Jennifer DeShazo said.
Appeals to a school's decision to retain a book can be made to the director of curriculum and instruction and, ultimately, the School Board, DeShazo said.
Indian River County School Board refuses to ban most of the 156 books on group's hit list
Most of the 150 challenged books in Indian River County remain on the shelves — literally
Is the class library closed? Districts, teachers navigating new state laws
If a book is removed from one middle or high school, district staff usually will remove the same title from the other middle and high schools, DeShazo said. Staff often will take action on their own if the book is in more than one building.
"There's really no point, if we find anything inappropriate, to have it at any schools," DeShazo said.
Districts throughout the state have been inundated with book challenges. Last year, Indian River County School Board removed five books out of 156 were challenged by members of Moms for Liberty, a parent advocacy group that began in Indian River County and now has chapters across the country.
Colleen Wixon is the education reporter for TCPalm.com. Contact her at email@example.com or 772-978-2235.