‘Speak’ challenge tabled by Big Walnut BOE


SUNBURY — The Big Walnut Board of Education meeting on March 23 resulted in tabling action on the book “Speak,” which some parents want removed from the district.

Board Vice President Angela Graziosi moved to postpone discussion “until we have a full board. I believe this is a very important issue.”

At the time of the meeting, the five-person board was down to four members due to a resignation.

“I agree with you, too, but we’re on a time calendar issue because policy requires that we take this up within 30 days of the request,” Board President Doug Crowl said. “I guess I’m saying that’s not an option.”

Graziosi asked what would happen if they didn’t meet the deadline.

Treasurer Darren Jenkins said Superintendent Ryan McLane “has made a report to the board and based on the review of the book in question” on Jan. 12, and the recommendation was that the book be kept.

“In my reading of the policy, it does not outline any kind of course of action if the board fails to meet the 30-day timeline,” Jenkins said.

It was noted that the recommendation was made 48 business days prior to this meeting, but that the challenge to the recommendation was still within the 30 days, which would be the end of March.

Board member Steve Fujii said if the deadline weren’t met, then the recommendation would stand. “That’s how it would seem to me,” Fujii said. “One of the options of the appeal is also to not hear the appeal, in which case the superintendent’s recommendation would stay in place.”

Board member Alice Nicks asked if that then meant the book couldn’t be brought up again before the board. Fujii said he thought the book could be brought up again, which was confirmed by Jenkins. Nicks then seconded Graziosi’s motion, passed by a 3-1 vote. Fujii was the sole no vote.

The novel “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson is described by the website goodreads.com as “a 1999 National Book Award Finalist for Young People’s Literature.”

Someone in the audience held up a sign during the meeting that said, “Open Books Open Minds.”

After preliminary actions, the board went into executive session for 80 minutes. Upon returning to the public, McLane explained how the district has resolved a public records request that was withdrawn but had the potential to release student directory information to an anonymous source. McLane said parents now have the option to select from one of four information options for their children.

Fujii praised McLane for his response, as well as the district’s secretaries, who were updating the options chosen by the parents.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the board is April 19.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].

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