Superintendent casts deciding vote in removing 2 books from Washington County schools

Superintendent Larry Bergeson, left, seen next to council member David Stirland, cast the tie-breaking vote that resulted in the ban of “Out of Darkness,” in St. George, Dec. 14.

Superintendent Larry Bergeson, left, seen next to council member David Stirland, cast the tie-breaking vote that resulted in the ban of “Out of Darkness,” in St. George, Dec. 14. (Sarah Torribio, St. George News)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

ST. GEORGE — A parental complaint has led to two books being pulled from the shelves of libraries in the Washington County School District.

The recommendation to ban the first book, "The Hate U Give," at local elementary and intermediate schools was made by a committee put together for the purpose of vetting books for students in grades K-5. The review panel included two parents, two principals and two school media specialists, i.e. librarians who are required by the district to hold a teaching credential.

The committee determined the book is inappropriate for children who are not yet in eighth grade, with the liberal use of profanities cited among other concerns. "The Hate U Give" has won numerous awards, including the American Library Association's William C. Morris Award and the Coretta Scott King Award for best children's novel penned by an African American author.

The second book to be banned is "Out of Darkness," a novel that was carried by district middle and high schools. The committee formed to scrutinize books at the secondary schools was split on the decision, with four members supporting its removal and four voting to leave the book on the shelves.

Per policy, it fell to Superintendent Larry Bergeson to cast the deciding vote. He did so during an afternoon work meeting held Dec. 14 in advance of the regular school board gathering, which was dominated by the schools' book-vetting processes. Bergeson started the discussion by acknowledging that the potential banning of reading material is a touchy topic.

"There's two overlying issues: the concern of parents, or anyone for that matter, that might have more conservative views about what the contents of books are, and the liberal side – freedom of speech, don't censor or do any of those things," Bergeson said. "And so those, like everything today, are diametrically opposed. We just have a battle along those lines. Trying to make both sides happy is not easy to do."

Read the full article at St. George News.

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Sarah Torribio

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