GASD proposes a way to prevent students from reading “challenged” books but says it will not ban them

An amended version of Gettysburg Area School District’s policy on library materials and resources was considered by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday evening, moving closer to formal board consideration on March 6.

The only change to the policy is the addition of this line:  

GASD 1

“The Superintendent or Designee will develop a procedure to allow parents to have the option to limit access to “challenged books”.

The board did not explain why the new line was needed or what its likely inclusion would mean, but Policy committee chair Michael Dickerson said the policy had been thoroughly discussed. “What was determined was that the administration can do their job and we trust them, he said.

Referring to emails and public statements, Board President Kenneth Hassinger said “We’re not banning books; it’s never been on the table.”

“We don’t want to get in the business of labeling books, rating books, discussing who should or should not have access,” said Dickerson. “We just want to let the parents make informed consent decisions and do what’s best for their families.”

Amybeth Hodges added that she has “full faith in our librarians” and ‘we don’t want them to feel we don’t support them.”

In her public comments, former librarian Janelle Werzberger said the proposed new language was “alarmingly vague” and predicted that efforts to enforce it would be labor-intensive, expensive, and ineffective.

“The board has been in discussions about how to restrict student access to books – not whether,” said Werzberger. “Parents have a right to guide their own children’s use of library materials. They do not have the right to restrict other children’s access.”

In other business, the board voted unanimously to renominate Amybeth Hodges as the representative to the Lincoln Intermediate Unit board. Hodges noted that she also represents Upper Adams and Fairfield school districts.

In a review of the Independent Auditor’s Report, Christa Gardner, representative of Smith Elliott Kearns and Company., gave “two thumbs up” to the GASD books, meaning that the auditors found no evidence of misrepresentation. The presentation stressed that the audit provides “reasonable, not absolute assurance that there are no material misstatements.”

Leon Reed, freelance reporter, is a former US Senate staff member, defense consultant, and history teacher. He is a seven year resident of Gettysburg, where he writes military history and explores the park and the Adams County countryside. He is the publisher at Little Falls Books, chaired the Adams County 2020 Census Complete Count Committee and is on the board of SCCAP and the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. He and his wife, Lois, have 3 children, 3 cats, and 5 grandchildren.

 

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