Board denies effort to change decision

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During this first meeting of the new school year, the Adams 12 Five Star school board voted in favor of superintendent Chris Gdowski’s summer decision to keep a controversial book in the school district as an AP English teaching tool. The board agreed that Gdowski’s decision to allow “The Bluest Eye” to be taught in one section of AP English at Legacy High School was reasonable based on the evidence and was not arbitrary or capricious.

“This is not a book review. We are here to determine whether the superintendent’s decision was justified,” said board member Frederick Schaefer. “Our role is to figure out whether or not the process was followed and as far as I can tell, the process was followed.

The issue concerning the “The Bluest Eye” was raised by a group of parents this summer who asked the district to take it out of the curriculum because they argue the books is “developmentally inappropriate” for teenagers. Along with limited use of the book in the classroom at Legacy, the two other sections of AP English will not use the book in the curriculum. Gdowski also requires teachers who teach “The Bluest Eye” have signed permission slips from parents allowing their student to read the book.

“My firm belief is that public education needs to be a welcoming and inclusive environment for all people from all different backgrounds and perspectives,” Gdowski said. “It is our job to be inclusive and that is really what drove the decision in this case.”

The crowd at the meeting was split pretty 50-50 among parents and educators for the book and parents and educators against the use of the book in the district. As for the school board, each member expressed their distaste for the book personally, but continued to support Gdowski’s decision. Board president Mark Clark said the book would be a great tool in college, but believes for students in Adams 12, they need to be taught “more morality, caring and building people up.”

Board member Rico Figueroa said the board needs to take a look at the current policies surrounding how books are chosen for the curriculum.

“I believe the superintendent made a reasonable decision taking into account what the students were getting and what they were not getting and made a decision based on the current policies,” he said. “But I think our policies are inadequate, and we need to take a serious look at them.”