Polk County Public Schools is moving forward with its review of 16 library books whose content has been formally challenged by a community organization. Two committees have been organized to conduct a review of these books. “I would like to offer my thanks to those volunteering to serve on our book review committees,” said Superintendent Frederick Heid. “Their diverse perspectives will be essential as we undertake a thorough and fair evaluation of these books. They represent educators, community stakeholders, mental health experts, parents and even high school students.” These committees have been organized to address allegations that making these books available in the library for students to check out violates two specific state laws (F.S. 847.012 and 847.001, respectively). The superintendent has temporarily paused making these books available in school libraries while this review takes place, so PCPS staff can be protected from the possibility of criminal charges. It is important to note that these books have not been banned. A final decision has not been made at this time. Members of the book review committees will be provided one to two weeks to read each book after which the committee will meet to discuss the book. They will recommend whether a book should be retained or removed from the district’s library collection; the superintendent will bring the committee recommendations to the Polk County School Board. The committee meetings will be open. Members of the public may attend the meetings, but they will not be permitted to participate or make comment. The meetings will be recorded and posted to the district’s website. The videos and their meeting schedule will be available here: polkschoolsfl.com/bookreview. The first meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, at the Jim Miles Professional Development Center, 4270 Wallace Road in Lakeland. During their first meeting, committee members will receive training on the review process as well as their first book. Visit polkschoolsfl.com/bookreview for an overview of the committee structure. The names of committee members are available upon request. Send your request to email@example.com. “The committee members will be devoting a significant amount of their personal time to this evaluation process,” Heid said. “Their service is greatly appreciated, as well as their willingness to participate in open discussions about these books. However, I want to respect any member who may not wish to have their name publicly posted.”
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