Northview Teacher, School Board Chair Call For Review Of 120 ‘Obscene’ Books; School Board To Address Book Policy: NorthEscambia.com

The Language Arts Department chair at Northview High School and the chairman of the Escambia County School Board are calling for the immediate removal of about 120 books from school libraries until they can be reviewed.

Both are clear they are not out to randomly ban books.

Vicki Baggett has taught for over 30 years, with the last two decades at Northview. She’s compiled a growing list of about 120 books that she says are inappropriate in schools, mostly due to sexual language and graphic drawings that she actually believes violate Florida’s obscenity laws.

She provided NorthEscambia.com with 14 pages listing the books available in Escambia County middle and high school libraries and cited hundreds of graphic and sexually explicit references. Many of the references, stories and descriptions from the books are so explicit that our policies won’t let us print them here.

Editor’s note: The remainder of this story includes content that some readers may find offensive or may not be appropriate for all ages.

Many of the books books on her list contain graphic and descriptive sexual language, include pedophilia and bestiality. One book uses the F-word 116 times. The are numerous books containing underage sex, what she termed “alternate sexualties”, “explicit violent content”, self-mutilation, suicide, rape, racism, and graphic drawings.

“I have asked the superintendent to quarantine or remove from circulation the challenged books until a review consistent with state statute is conducted,” School Board Chairman Kevin Adams said of Baggett’s list.

So far, that has not happened.

“The School Board has the authority to remove books from its libraries; however, it cannot do so simply because it disagrees with the message of a book or it offends the personal morals of an individual, “School Board General Counsel Ellen Odom said in an emailed statement on Monday. “Through the review process, if the School Board determines that a particular book is pornographic or obscene, is not suited to student needs and their ability to comprehend the material presented, is inappropriate for the grade level and age group for which the material is used , or is factually inaccurate or misleading, it can direct the removal of such book. “

Adams and Baggett both said it’s not a matter of banning books based upon their personal beliefs; rather, it’s a matter of using tax money to purchase obscene material and taking away parental choice. Both said parents have the right to allow their children access to the books through the public library or bookstores.

Several of the books are winners of major literary awards and accolades, but both said the books need to be reviewed to determine if they are age-appropriate for middle or high school readers.

“The biggest thing is we have to ensure children cannot access age inappropriate material without parental approval,” Adams said. “We have to respect parental rights.”

Adams pointed out that every Escambia County school student receives a library card for the West Florida Public Libraries, and some of the books can be accessed at those public libraries. “Would I advocate that? Yeah. But they can, ”he said.

“We have a rating system for everything. We have a rating system for movies. We have a rating system for music. Why don’t we have a rating system for books? We can even do that in the library, ”Baggett.

The Escambia County School Board has scheduled a special workshop for 8 am on October 10 to discuss a revised school library collection development policy and educational media review policy to ensure consistency with a recently passed state law, HB 1467, which requires school districts to be transparent in the selection of instructional materials, including library and reading materials.

NorthEscambia.com will continue to follow this story.

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