RCAS board votes to get rid of controversial books

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 10:42 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Rapid City Area Schools’ Board of Education voted Tuesday night to sell three book titles back to the book seller. The decision comes after it’s content was deemed “inappropriate” --- by some school administrators.

The three titles were “How Beautiful We Were,” “Girl, Woman, Other,” as well as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

All but two board members that were present, Clay Colombe and Michael Birkeland, voted in favor of selling the books back.

Birkeland worries that the board is setting a precedent that the district can get rid of any book that a parent or board member may not like.

”We have policy that says that an individual parent cannot infringe upon the rights of the majority of students, and that we must look at the works as a whole,” Birkeland said. “If we look at any one of these books as a whole, it is one or two pages of graphic content surrounded by four hundred pages of great literary content.”

The elimination of these books follows controversy surrounding two other titles the district deemed to be “inappropriate” earlier this year.

The books were sent to a warehouse, but eventually couldn’t be found.

Interim RCAS Superintendent Nicole Swigart says this was a mistake made by the administration, and believes the tiles were also sold back prematurely.

She adds these communication issues have since been reformed.

”We communicate very clearly what we want done with them now, whether we want them held, sold, or put in a recycle pile,” Swigard said.

Following public outcry in May, the board decided to seek legal advice before deciding what to do next with the titles.