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LASD considers a policy on challenges to its reading materials

School district policy was the topic of discussion at Monday’s Littlestown Area School District (LASD) board meeting.

The board discussed the approval for the first reading of Policy 109 which focuses on the procedure the board will apply to reviewing educational materials used in the classrooms and libraries of each building when there is a complaint made about a particular material. The Curriculum, Co-curriculum, and Policy Committee presented a ten-step process that will assist them in reviewing materials used in LASD classrooms or placed in the libraries, and then be able to present a recommendation to the Board for approval.

“Are we applying these books to Pennsylvania Law to see if we are violating the law?” asked Board member, Nicki Kenny.

LASD Solicitor, Dan Altland explained, “There is a white line test as to what obscenity is. It is what the average person applying contemporary community standards would find a work, taken as a whole, appeals to the period interests, and whether the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law. And finally, whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” He continued, “That is the test for obscenity under the United States Supreme Court and would also be applicable in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

The policy also provides that the committee could request the assistance of library associations and solicitor involvement.  “I have worked with (Assistant to the Superintendent) Dr. Timothy Mitzel and the committee in trying to develop the policy as you have it,” said Altland.

The first reading of Policy 109 was approved by the Board 8 to 1, with Kenny as the sole “no” vote.

Superintendent Christopher Bigger presented information regarding the Health and Safety Plan for the LASD buildings. “I want to thank all the people who have been stepping in when there has been a need,” said Bigger.

The school district has seen a total of 180 students and 37 staff absent for COVID from September, 2021 to January 17, 2022. Students have maintained a 90% attendance rate, and less than 1% of close contacts to a person with COVID in schools end with a positive result.

LASD’s main goal from the beginning of the pandemic was to keep students in the school buildings. The Health and Safety Plan mitigation measures going forward are:

  1. Stay home when sick.
  2. Masking optional (5-20% wearing a mask depending on the building)
  3. Fog classrooms and buses weekly at a minimum.
  4. Notify close contacts if exposed in school, with no minimum quarantine.
  5. In the home close contacts for a student or employee will be quarantined for 10 days if not vaccinated or did not have COVID in the last 90 days. Positive individuals required to quarantine for 10 days.

Mr. Bigger also noted that policy numbers 4 and 5 above exceed the current recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health.

The next meeting of the LASD Board will be on February 14, 2022 in the board room at 7:00 PM. The public is encouraged to attend.

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Christina Grim grew up in Shippensburg, PA, Franklin County, and graduated from Shippensburg Area High School. She is an experienced interviewer, researcher, and news reporter, having worked for the Shippensburg News-Chronicle as a staff reporter during college. Driven by the desire to know the facts and answers to today’s issues, she takes seriously the importance of providing the best reporting possible. Ms. Grim earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Messiah College and has worked in her field, either in print or radio/streamed media for the last 25 years. As a single mother, she has learned that the best things in life come from hard work and multi-tasking. She is the mother of two adult children and two cats

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