Shenandoah County school board adopts new policy on instructional material

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 1:05 AM EST
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WOODSTOCK, Va. (WHSV) - Shenandoah County Public Schools (SCPS) board took action on Thursday to adopt new policies regarding sexually explicit content.

This comes as a result of Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signing a bill in April that requires schools to give parents a say in whether their kids will engage in such materials.

SCPS already has a policy in place that parents can review materials and even go through a process to have that material potentially deemed inappropriate and removed.

The new policy mandates that parents will be notified at least 30 days before the sexually explicit content will be assigned. Upon request of the parent, the student will be assigned an alternative option.

SCPS has separated the curriculum policy from the library policies which brought out strong opinions in Thursday’s meeting.

Some were concerned with the language used in the policy draft that currently states, “Selected books and materials will adhere to the educational philosophy and goals of Shenandoah County Public Schools, while respecting the cultural norms of the county, and concerns of parents.”

“The definition of our county’s cultural norms concerns me because family beliefs in our community are as diverse as the books on our shelves,” a Central High school librarian said.

But others believed that these materials have no place in schools anyway.

“It’s my job to bring my kids up. If my kids have a question about their identity,” a concerned parent said. He added: “That’s for me and my child to decide in our home or church.”

Other concerns included the fact that the review committee for the materials in question consists of eight people making a tied vote possible.

Other questions revolved around what happens to a book while it is being reviewed and after the review process.

Those who spoke on this agreed that the book should remain in circulation during review saying it could show bias or even hinder learning for those who need it, specifically dual-enrolled students who may need it for class during that time.

“There are only really two options in this policy: keep or remove it from circulation. The downfall of the proposed policy is to remove it from circulation. You’re removing it from all those county libraries, so if it’s deemed inappropriate in a lower school then the higher schools won’t have access to it,” Signal Knobb Elementary library media specialist said.

This item was tabled until the next meeting in January.

To watch the full meeting, click here.