By Monica Chen
A Wake schools district committee on Wednesday supported Cary High School’s decision to keep a book with obscene content in the school library.
There is just one problem.
According to district policy, Cary High School was supposed to set up its own committee to examine the book in question. The Central Instructional Materials Advisory Committee does not step in until there is an appeal by the parents. Neither of those things has happened.
The central committee decided at a Wednesday meeting behind closed doors to keep “Lawn Boy” at Cary High. That was to protect the complaining parent’s privacy, according to The News & Observer.
A group of parents filed criminal complaints against Wake County Public Schools System on Nov. 30, on counts of distribution of pornography and sex offense against juveniles.
The parents say the books are obscene and amount to “grooming,” or making kids more susceptible to sexual abuse. The books they object to are: “George,” by Alex Gino; “Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison; “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” by Maia Kobabe; and “Blankets,” by Craig Thompson.
In “Lawn Boy,” the author describes two 10-year-old boys engaging in oral sex.
Cary High Principal Nolan Bryant did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
Lisa Luten, spokeswoman for Wake County Public School Systems, previously referred to district policies, “Policy Code 3210” and “Regulation Code: 3210-R&P,” in response to the parents’ complaints. Those policies require principals to set up committees at individual schools to examine questionable content in books.
“Parents can object to materials. And therefore, because they can object to materials, there is a process for that,” Luten said in December. “They have to go through the process.”
Such committees would be made up of the media coordinator, two teachers with specialty in the content, two parents and the principal, at a minimum.
“If the committee determines that any material violates constitutional or other legal rights of the parent or student, the principal or the committee shall either remove the material from instructional use or accommodate the particular student and parent,” the policy states.
The Central Instructional Materials Advisory Committee only looks into the complaint if there is an appeal by the parents.
The Spring Magazine reached out to Luten for comments on Thursday about why WCPSS did not follow its own district policy, and why Cary High did not form a committee for its decision. Luten did not respond.
Parents around the country have called on school officials to take action on the same books and others.
The parents in Wake County are citing federal and state laws on distributing obscene content, in particular to minors, as grounds for their removal. They say they do not understand why the books were available in the first place.
On Wednesday, The N&O also reported that Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has decided not to pursue the matter.
“We are pressing criminal charges because we want these adults to be held accountable, and we don’t want them to ever work with kids again,” said Michele Morrow, a mother of four who lives in Cary, in December.