This is in response to the column titled “Any Suggestions” written by Terri Winder and published in the February 27 issue of the San Juan Record. In this column, Winder expresses her concern with a book, titled Thick, which was checked out of the San Juan High School’s library. The content of the book is called into question because of “profanity, swearing, and filthy slang words” as well as its inclusion of a “murder and graphic sexual scenes.”
A close review of the book by district officials finds that the book does contain profanity, swearing, and slang words and the entire plot of the book is based on a murder. The book does not contain any “graphic sexual scenes.” The synopsis quoted in the column is for a different book by the same author and is not found in district school libraries.
The San Juan School District is committed to keeping our schools and curriculum free from vulgar, filthy language, content, and materials which are inappropriate for our youth. Procedures are in place to ensure that books and other materials which are not appropriate for our students are excluded from our schools.
The book in question came to the school through the Young Adult Choices program sponsored by the American Library Association. Books received through this program are screened locally for content before they are placed in circulation. The book in question in this situation went through a screening process and many books received through the program were removed and prohibited from being circulated in our schools.
Did this book mistakenly pass through this screening process? The answer to that question is based upon one’s personal views, where one draws the line on the threshold of appropriateness, and has been the topic of the endless debate on censorship that has raged on for years.
Because of these differences of opinion, San Juan School District has established policy to deal with this type of problem. District policy states that when a person has a concern he/she should share it with the building administrator.
If the building administrator finds possible inappropriate material, a committee is formed to decide on the matter. It is the intent of the policy to allow a committee, which fairly represents the community’s values and morality views, to review books and materials circulated within our schools and determine if the material is appropriate for students based on the community standards.
I would suggest that anyone who finds him/herself questioning the appropriateness of materials in a local school, go to the school administrator and allow the school an opportunity to address the concern. The process of a formal review of materials begins with the concerned individual filling out a “Request for Reconsideration of Materials” form. The school and district administration are committed to working with parents and students to assure a quality educational experience.
Ron T. Nielson
K-12 Supervisor San Juan School District