VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Public Schools is re-evaluating policies and procedures when it comes to the content children can access in school.
During Tuesday’s Virginia Beach School Board work session, district leaders explained the current book policy and how they keep track of the district’s more than one million books along with using two scholastic vetting systems.
“For me, there’s this sort of polarity management of values. What’s available for students to be seen and heard and recognized,” said Sharon Shewbridge, Director of Instructional Technology.
At least once a year, each school’s library media specialist reviews the entire collection and gets rid of 600-800 books. They then order just as many brand new ones. Some on the school board weren’t convinced of the policy’s effectiveness.
“These children will be given books with some graphic, sexual pictures until a parent does enough detective work to find the book and tell you it’s not OK,” said board member Laura Hughes.
Board member Vicky Manning asked how the district will ensure such books don’t fall into the hands of minors.
In response, VBCPS is in the process of creating a form that will be linked to the school district website allowing parents to choose which books their children have access to in their school libraries. The option was always there but it wasn’t well known.
If there is a controversial book, librarians and school administrators will ultimately decide if the literary work should be removed.
“The other book that came forward, we immediately said ‘This is not age-appropriate’ and we are happy to say books are not age-appropriate, but I will not stand here and say that we have pornography in our libraries,” Shewbridge stated.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Education is set to develop a model policy for all Virginia public schools regarding sexually explicit content. The VDOE must do so by July 31, 2022.