Aug 29, 2023 - News

Charlotte-Mecklenburg students temporarily denied library books because of Parents’ Bill of Rights


Photo: Laura Barrero/Axios

Charlotte public school students will be denied from checking out library books for the first two weeks of school.

Why it matters: Some children who’ve waited all summer to dive into the worlds of Harry Potter, Junie B. Jones, Nancy Drew and Percy Jackson will be turned away.

  • It’s an early sign of how strongly opposed legislation coming out of Raleigh is trickling down to impact students.

What’s happening: The procedure at CMS libraries, in place through Sept. 11, is in response to the Parents’ Bill of Rights, WFAE first reported. The new law requires superintendents to create an avenue for parents to object to textbooks and library materials. It also guarantees parents the right to review their child’s library records.

Yes, but: CMS has had a form that citizens fill out when they are concerned about a book.

“The wait to take books out of the library is not related to challenges,” according to CMS’ communications team. “It is an alignment with the Parents’ Bill of Rights which gives parents options for the books their child reads.”

  • Only a few books in CMS libraries were challenged between 2020 and 2022.
  • Some have suggested the existing process is insufficient.

[Go deeper: These are the books Charlotte-area residents wanted to ban]

In the meantime, CMS says students can access reading materials online through public libraries.

  • Schools may still use the media center (library) for instruction or teach students procedures, like how to check out a book.

Catch up fast: North Carolina Republicans overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto earlier this month on the controversial Parents’ Bill of Rights. Last week, the CMS school board voted to update policies in line with the law. The other policies affected are:

  • Sex education: Parents must give explicit consent for their child to participate in a reproductive health and safety education program. Previously, parents had to opt out.
  • Student health: Educators must inform parents if their child requests to change their name, pronouns or nickname at school. It also bans the topics of gender identity, sexual activity or sexuality from kindergarten through fourth-grade curriculum.
  • Parent involvement: The additions to this policy outline specific parental rights over their children’s education. They range from participating in parent-teacher organizations to seeking a medical or religious exemption from immunization requirements to reviewing a student’s library history.

What they’re saying: The majority of Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members oppose the Parents’ Bill of Rights. But they said they need to uphold the law.

  • “To the CMS students who will experience harm or risk danger under these regressive laws, I want you to know that there are many here in this community who support your authentic lives,” board member Melissa Easley said.
  • She and other board members noted CMS already extends many of the rights under the new law to parents, such as the book objection process. “It’s pure culture warfare,” board member Jennifer De La Jara said of Senate Bill 49.

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