At the Monday night Republic School Board meeting, the four school board members in attendance voted 4-0 to remove one book from the school’s library and another from the school’s curriculum.
The vote came as a result of a complaint regarding the books, sent by a community member. Although the community member doesn’t have children in Republic's school system, the board addressed the complaint.
The original complaint mentioned three books: “Speak,” by Laurie Halsey Anderson, “Slaughterhouse-Five,” by Kurt Vonnegut and “Twenty Boy Summer” by Sarah Ockler. Although “Speak” made the cut with the school board and will be kept in the library, the other two didn’t meet the policy guidelines set by the board in April regarding book content.
“Slaughterhouse-Five,” which was taught in an upper level English class, but not available in the library, will be removed from the curriculum. While “Twenty Boy Summer,” available in the school’s library, was found by board members to be too sexually graphic.
“It’s written to a young audience but when you look at the standards ... the book promotes or sensationalizes sexual promiscuity,” said Republic School Superintendent Dr. Vern Minor. “It portrays drugs, alcohol and tobacco use not consistent with our policy.”
Republic School Board member Denny Lawson, one of the four members in attendance who voted against keeping the two books, said the books simply shouldn’t be there.
“It comes down to a constant evaluation. Neither should have been in the library to start with,” Lawson said. “I wouldn’t want my kids to read it.”
Also voting against the books was Ed Cantrell.
“The book 'Speak' was age-appropriate for high school. The others were appropriate maybe for a college kid, but we’re not going to provide it at our school,” Cantrell said.
Board President Ken Knierim, also in attendance, felt the books just missed the mark altogether.
“We just felt that of the three books, the two we have pulled aren’t age- appropriate and send the wrong message,” Knierim said.
The only voting board member to have read all three of the books—not just the Cliff's Notes, was Melissa Duvall. Duvall considers her vote against the books not so much about the book, but the school’s policy.
“We’re not making a judgment call on if the book is good or bad, we just want to make sure it’s age-appropriate,” Duvall said.