Informal Challenges Of A School District

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1. My school is a high school in a small town in rural northwest Tennessee. It serves approximately 800 students in grades 9-12, with roughly 200 students per grade. Approximately half of these students are white, with African-Americans making up approximately thirty-five percent of the student population, Latinos making up approximately ten percent of the student population, and Asian, Pacific Islander, and other students making up the remaining five percent of the student population. The library contains roughly 15,000 volumes including books, magazines, newspapers, DVDs, and audiobooks. The library also features an adjoining computer lab with thirty desktop PCs. The library is centrally located within the school building.
2. Selection Policy
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Any resident of the school district may challenge items in the school library either informally or formally. Informal challenges may involve conversations with the school principal or school librarian in which the library’s selection policies are discussed. Those who wish to file a formal challenge must speak with the school principal, pick up and fill out a challenge form (see Appendix II), and return it to the principal within two weeks. The challenge will be dropped if the form is not returned within two weeks. The principal will notify the library challenge committee of all formal challenges.
B. The library challenge committee shall consist of the school principal, the school librarian, two faculty members (one of whom must be an English teacher), and a member of the board of education. In the event that a challenged item relates to an area of expertise of a faculty member not currently serving on the library challenge committee, a knowledgeable faculty member in the subject matter may be chosen to replace the non-English faculty
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A decision concerning the challenge will be made in no more than sixty days from the receipt of the challenge form.
E. The complainant will be informed of the results of the challenge in writing via a signed letter bearing all the signatures of the library challenge committee.
F. The challenge form and process is very similar to that of the Dyersburg City Schools where I work. I decided to allow teachers across disciplines to have a say in challenged items in their various fields by giving them opportunities to serve on the challenge committee. The Dyersburg policy called for the presence of a parent on the challenge committee, but I omitted that role because I wanted to keep an odd number of committee members and avoid any personal politics that might creep in if a nonspecialist were allowed on the committee. Hopefully those on the committee who are parents can use that realm of knowledge and experience to add that dimension of perspective to the challenge process. I gave the committee two months to make a decision because I expect the process to be timely, yet I know that it can take busy professionals a while to slog through something like Harry Potter or other lengthy books. I added the bit about relationship to other books in the collection to prevent books from being thrown out simply because they represent an unpopular view of a topic. Similarly, I followed the Dyersburg policy’s lead in allowing complainants to suggest resources that might help shape the discussion

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