It took four minutes for the School Board to deny the challenges to "When I Was Puerto Rican," by Esmeralda Santiago and "Thousand Pieces of Gold," by Ruthanne Lum McCunn Tuesday, April 29.
In that amount of time, Rita Thompson (At large) made a motion, seconded by Tessie Wilson (Braddock) to remove the McCunn book for the sole purpose of opening the floor to discussion, which allowed her to lobby for an automatic notification system for parents.
"We don't have an automated system in place to notify parents when their children are reading books with explicit material," Thompson said. "This book paints a vivid picture of slavery and women being bought and sold, which certainly still continues today in some countries; but some of our younger middle schoolers may not understand."
However, even Thompson did not vote for the motion. It failed unanimously. No motion was brought forth on the Santiago book, thereby denying the challenge. Board members Mychele Brickner (At large), Christian Braunlich (Lee) and Kaye Kory (Mason) were absent from the meeting.
Richard and Alice Ess of the Mount Vernon area of the county, had challenged both books, requesting each be removed from all school-system elementary and middle schools and future use of the books be prohibited. In both cases, paperwork filed by the Esses state they challenged the books "because of language, actions and situations" the books contained. Also in both cases, neither book is available at the elementary-school library level.
In all, the Esses filed challenges late last year to remove 25 books from school libraries systemwide, many of which were deemed to require no action because the book in question had already been removed or was only available in the Professional Collection, which cannot be accessed by students. Tuesday's actions represent the forth and fifth request to be appealed to the School Board, which has so far failed to uphold the Esses' challenge. The others were "Witch Baby," by Francesca Lia Block; "Growing Up Chicana/o," by Tiffany Ana Lopez; and "How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents," by Julia Alvarez.