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Hamilton Co. School Board approves committee to review books in school libraries

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
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Thursday the Hamilton County School Board approved a new special committee to review books sitting on library shelves.

Each board member will appoint 2 representatives from their district tasked with bringing a list of findings to the board by March.

The creation comes after months of heated debate over several controversial books.

But, the vote didn't come without its own controversy.

Jenny Hill proposed an amendment that places librarians and the board attorney on the committee.

Those amendments were denied.


After months of heated debate over controversial books in Hamilton County Schools, the school board is preparing to take action Thursday.

They will vote to either approve or deny a special committee that will take a look at the books Hamilton County School students read.

Hamilton County parents and school board members first brought up the issue in October.

Parents voiced concerns over books like "The Hate You Give," "Far From the Tree," and "On the Come Up."

School Board Member Rhonda Thurman argued certain words and themes in the above titles were too vulgar for children to be exposed to in public schools.

School Board Member Karitsa Mosley Jones explained that none of these titles were mandatory, but rather optional library offerings.

She raised concerns about censoring books and some parents agreed it could be detrimental for children who saw themselves represented in these titles.

"In my mind it doesn't hurt to do a deep dive on this given the recent conversations," said Board Chair Tucker McClendon during Monday's agenda session.

The school board says the committee's job will be to evaluate the polices and report back with a list of suggestions.

"There's been great conversation around our reading materials, our policies, our procedures, our standards," said McClendon.

McClendon explained that the group will be a public committee, meaning each board member can appoint two people from their district to serve on the committee. In addition, the superintendent or a superintendent delegate will be part of the group.

The committee will be open to the public but the specific goals for the committee are still uncertain at this point.

"Should we have a procedure for donated content? Absolutely. Should a small group of people dictate what that material is? Absolutely not?," said Angela Favaloro, an organizer with Moms for Social Justice.

Favaloro also said she has concerns about the lack of time the public had to comment and discuss the special committee. She says she believes this was added to agenda "last minute."

During the agenda session on Monday, school board members acknowledged there have been months of contentious conversation on this topic.

"This has been a very heated discussion. It’s fine, it's a valid conversation for me, but it has become very heated," said Board Member Tiffanie Robinson during the agenda session.

Parents packed school board meetings in October voicing their opinions.

" Some kids dare each other to eat Tide Pods but you don't see anyone advocating to put them in the school lunch rooms, because they're toxic.
As are these books," said Jamie Hall, with Moms for Liberty's Hamilton County Chapter back in October.

"When has book banning ever been looked at favorably in history?," said Taylor Lyons, a Co-Founder of Moms for Social Justice during an October board meeting, "Literature is art. Art reflects society. Wo we can expect our contemporary writers to use the vernacular of our culture."

In our conversations with both groups Tuesday, the discussion centered around differing ideas on parental rights.

"For parents that don't want their children exposed to that vulgar language and violent material. We can't have our children on see or unlearn those messages," said Brandy Howard the Hamilton County Chapter Chair of Moms for Liberty.
"If you don't want your child reading those books, that's your prerogative as a parent to say that it's not appropriate for your child. It is not however, you're right to say what's appropriate for my children or anyone else's children," said Lyons, of Moms for Social Justice.

We’re still working to learn if this committee will be reviewing all books available in school libraries or just those required for students to read for a grade. We've reached out to Board Chair Tucker McClendon and are waiting to hear back.

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If approved on Thursday the committee would need to bring any of their findings about reading materials to the school board before March.

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