RCAS board continues book restriction discussions

The late evening news on KEVN Black Hills Fox Monday-Friday
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:39 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Rapid City Area Schools Board of Education is considering changing its policy on restricting materials that members of the community may deem inappropriate.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the board held its first reading on the revised policies on complaints regarding instructional material, including books in the school libraries. Superintendent Nicole Swigart said more parents have expressed concern in recent years about books they claim are graphic and not appropriate.

”The number of e-mails that I receive weekly concerning books that are in our libraries does warrant us taking a proactive approach,” Swigart said.

The new policy as it stands puts a pause on any student from checking out a book being complained about until a review is completed.

Board Members Michael Birkeland and Jamie Clapham expressed concern, saying the books could instead be flagged so other students could still check Them out, but with a warning.

”We haven’t specified how many could be pulled at once,” Clapham said. “We could be talking about pulling 25 books that no student could read because theoretically, one person has chosen to challenge them. So, I feel like it’s a slippery slope.”

“We live in a country where you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Birkeland said. “I feel like the same thing applies here. If We just give the consequence immediately, that’s not going through that appropriate process.”

Birkeland and Clapham both voted No on this first reading.