Before the Challenge Comes • Make sure you have a written Selection Policy • Make sure the principal has a copy, and knows about it – go over it with him/her if possible • Strongly urge the Principal to have it approved by the Board, or by the Site Management Team • Curriculum Coordinator should also have a copy
Before the Challenge • Have a “Request for Reconsideration of Materials” form, which has also been reviewed and approved by the Principal and any other necessary groups. • Example:
But before we get formal: • Part of your policy could be to have the LMS or the Principal talk to the person informally, explaining the role of the material in question within the educational process. Share Selection Policy, rationale for having that item, etc. • Assure the person that they can file a formal request if they wish
A Procedure should be in place • Complainant is informed of the procedure, and is given a copy of the Selection Policy • Complainant submits a written Request for Reconsideration of Educational Material. • The form should be available through the school office and submitted to the Principal • Or to the LMS? • Same form used for protested classroom material?
Procedure for Reconsideration • The affected school personnel shall be informed of the complaint: librarian, teacher, curriculum coordinator, and others as necessary • The challenged material shall remain on the shelves or in use during the reconsideration process, except for copies needed for review by the committee
Procedure for Reconsideration • The complaint is considered by a Review Committee appointed by the principal and comprised of: • The librarian • Teacher(s) • Parent(s) • Others? – Library Aide, students, Curriculum Coordinator?
Procedure for Reconsideration • The Committee does the following: • Reads, views, or listens to materials • Checks general acceptance of material by reading reviews and consulting recommended lists • Determines the extent to which the material fits the Selection Policy • Makes a recommendation to the Principal within one month of the date of the written Request for Reconsideration
Procedure for Reconsideration • Guidelines should specify options for the Committee to make: • Remove the material from student use • Retain the material for restricted use (specify restrictions?) • Retain the material for general use
Procedure for Reconsideration • The Principal shall inform the complainant (and the committee), in writing, of the recommendation of the committee and the Principal’s subsequent decision • The complainant may appeal the Principal’s decision to the school board by requesting a hearing. Such appeal must occur within one month of the date of written notification of Principal’s decision
Reconsideration Committee • Elect a chair to conduct meeting(s). Probably best if not the librarian or a teacher directly involved. • Guidelines should be provided to the committee, along with a copy of the Request for Reconsideration form and a copy of the material under review.
Guidelines for the Committee • Some principles for the committee: • ALA Library Bill of Rights (supply copies) • Importance of academic freedom and freedom to read • Importance of respecting parents’ legitimate concerns and interest in the school program • Material should be considered as a whole, and within the context of the educational program
Committee Procedure • All committee members should read or view the work in question in its entirety • Reviews of the material should also be read by the committee • Weigh values and faults, and form opinions based on the whole work, not just passages • Discuss challenged resource in the context of the educational program
Committee Procedure • School Librarian or Teacher who assigned may be part of the committee, or may be invited to speak to the committee on the work in question • (Other) school district staff members or outside professionals with knowledge of the material or its subject matter may be consulted
Committee Procedure • Complainant may be invited to discuss the challenged item with the committee • Once all input has been received, committee should discuss and make a decision • Written report should be prepared and submitted to the Principal or other administrator, who may provide a copy to the complainant
Resources to assist you • Fellow Library Media Specialists – may have experience and advice • ALA’s office of Intellectual Freedom http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/ • AASL’s web site http://www.ala.org/aasl/index.html
Other issues related to censorship • How do we view parents’ rights to have a say about what is in the library their children use? • Are parents generally considered “The Enemy?” • Are parents aware of the changes in children’s literature over the past 20 (or 40) years?
Other issues related to censorship • Do we have the trust of our parents? • How do we dialogue with them about the role of reading, the school library, and the school curriculum for their children’s education and improvement? • Can we help parents learn about children’s and YA literature, within the context of today’s children and young adults? How?
Other issues related to censorship • Help parents see our dilemma – can’t bow to every protest or pressure • Communicate that we aren’t trying to indoctrinate – only to fairly represent a variety of viewpoints • Communicate the importance of freedom of expression
What do we really think about what should be in our libraries? • How sexually explicit should materials be? • What kinds of lifestyles should be “encouraged” or presented in a non-judgmental way? • What about profanity? • What about witchcraft, occult, New Age, etc.? • What other things make us uncomfortable?
What do we really think about what should be in our libraries? • Given the community in which you work and live, what materials are acceptable, and what things just aren’t appropriate for the collection? • How do you balance your professional education about censorship and selection with your professional practice in your library? With your personal beliefs?
What does your principal think? • Will s/he follow the procedure? • Is s/he very sensitive to parental complaints? • Will s/he support the LMS through the process? • If a fellow teacher objects to library materials, what will the principal do?