BOE statement regarding “surplus books.”
On behalf of the Rapid City Board of Education we would like to provide the following information regarding the books that were slated to be destroyed. First and foremost, the decision to add any property to be destroyed, sold, or recycled including books, has never been a Board decision. Per the recommendation by the administration the list of supplies and equipment, (BOE May 3rd Agenda Item 9M, Surplus Property) was no longer considered necessary by the Rapid City Area Schools. It was recommended by the administration; the Board of Education declare by resolution that the supplies and the equipment on the list be surplus property.
These books were brought to the attention of the BOE when we received news outlet questions about them. This was not a demand from the Board of Education to get these books out of classrooms, it was a wise decision made by Principals and Administrators. According to the Director of Teaching, Learning, and Innovation, a committee of seven English teachers from the three high schools selected and approved twelve books for a new English 12 reading class. Five of those books were ones the Administration pulled due to inappropriate, explicit sexual content and added to the surplus property list. The professional judgment of the staff on district committees is trusted by the Board to be in the best interest of the greatest number of students and age appropriate, hence the course and books were approved last year. We are saddened to have this trust diminished by the decision to include these books in the recommended material.
According to district policy, if a student had the explicit pictures from one of the books on their computers it would be considered pornography and they would be subject to disciplinary action. It is concerning that staff would recommend this material for a reading class. One or more of these books likely violated Codified Law 22-24-27 and would be deemed “Harmful to Minors”. We have the district attorneys investigating the content of these books to determine if in fact they can be destroyed or sold to book buyers.
An investigation as to how the books were selected, vetted, and approved will be forthcoming. This will help the BOE find where oversight is missing. The BOE will be creating policy and procedure to address how books are chosen within the parameters of “Professional Judgement”.
Kate ThomasRCAS Board President Area 7
Do what is right, not what is easy.