Clyde-Savannah vote on book ban could set precedent

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WAYNE COUNTY, N.Y. – The school board in Clyde-Savannah will decide Wednesday whether to uphold a ban of five books from its junior and senior high school libraries.

The board recently voted to ban the books due to sexually explicit material in them.

But a teacher and librarian in the district filed an appeal to the state education commissioner.

If the board doesn’t reinstate the books, it may ultimately be sued.

Some parents tell News10NBC they fear this sets a dangerous precedent. If the state doesn’t like what the local school board chooses to do, it can step in and change things.

In this case, the state says the decision might violate its diversity equity and inclusion guidance.

The school district is expect a big turnout for the meeting.

A taxpayer in the district filed a complaint about five books that he felt were inappropriate in the school libraries.

The district followed its policy which calls for a committee to be formed to review the books. That committee recommended the books stay – but a mechanism be put in place to allow parents to prevent their children from checking them out.

They reported that to the school board, who ultimately voted to just remove the five books all together. In New York, anyone who considers themselves aggrieved by a school board decision has the right to appeal to the commissioner of education. Two district employees exercised that right.

On Wednesday, the school board will determine how to proceed.

“We want to make sure that Albany does not threaten the board of education to overturn their votes because the precedent is is that if Albany can step in and influence a locally elected election, where will they stop?” said Jacob Marchitell, who filed the original complaint.

Superintendent Mike Hayden said in a statement:

“The C-S Board of Education received a Notice of Petition on Friday, September 8, 2023 pertaining to their August 9, 2023 action that resulted in removal of 5 books from the Jr./Sr. High Library. Anyone who considers themselves aggrieved by a School Board action have the right to appeal to the Commissioner of Education for a review of such action. Two employees have exercised their rights to submit an appeal accordingly. I support their right to do so. To clarify, this is not a lawsuit, and the employees are not suing the district. This is an administrative proceeding which would have to be exhausted before a party can bring this matter to court.

We recognize that Board decisions may be unpopular at times. It is important that we continue to respect the process of the Board and its members. It is equally important that we respect the process for those that may feel aggrieved by a Board’s action.  

As I shared publicly before, the presence of a book in our library does not imply an endorsement of its content or ideas. Rather, it offers students the opportunity to explore different viewpoints, engage in thoughtful discussions, and develop their own informed opinion. I do support the library review committee’s recommendation and the process associated with their determination. Ultimately, the district policy leaves the final decision with the Board of Education.”

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the high school.