An Ad Hoc committee to recommend to Glenbard principals if Glenbard students will still have access to the most banned books in the nation

Emma Pekkarinen, School News Editor

After numerous community concerns about three specific titles in Glenbard libraries, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, Flamer by Mike Curato and All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, actions are being taken to determine if students will continue to have access to them. 

Glenbard schools originally addressed this issue with individual community members meeting with the principal and librarian of each school to discuss why the books were chosen and the current concerns with the books, after filling out a form on the district website to formally request the reconsideration of the books. According to district administrator Melissa Creech, “We had a lot of these requests all come through at the same time, and they impacted all four buildings so all four of our principals actually met together in January after they had met with all of the people who had concerns and they decided to keep the books in the library at that time.” The principals wrote a letter to the complainants to let them know the books would be staying in the libraries for the time being, however some were still concerned and wished to appeal the decision. 

To appeal the decision, after the formal request was made by the complainants, an Ad Hoc committee has been formed to address the complaints and come to a recommendation about the titles that the principals must then review. 

“The principals have finished selecting the 18 members of the Ad Hoc Committee for Reconsidering Library Materials in accordance with the committee process and procedures,” stated the Glenbard News email sent by Peg Manion on February 7th which included a message by superintendent David Larson. The committee members include: “Glenbard East Principal Mr. Antoine Anderson, Glenbard North Principal Dr. John Mensik, Glenbard West Principal Dr. Peter Monaghan, and Glenbard South Principal Ms. Jessica Santee; Glenbard North Librarian Ms. Melanie Elfers, Glenbard West Librarian Ms. Alicia Hollander, Glenbard South Librarian Ms. Diane Mankowski, and Glenbard East Librarian Ms. Kelly Roberts; Glenbard West English Teacher Mr. Tony Crowley, Glenbard East English Teacher Dr. Teresa Lawrence, Glenbard North English Teacher Mr. Brian Melton, and Glenbard South Social Studies Department Chair Mr. Ruben Rodriguez; Community members: Ms. Nikki Dawson from Glenbard South, Ms. Leticia Elias from Glenbard East, Ms. Danielle Logacho from Glenbard East and Ms. Karen Winter from Glenbard West; and District Office: Assistant Superintendent for Student Services Ms. Janet Cook and Executive Director for Teaching and Learning Ms. Melissa Creech,” according to the email. 

The committee members were chosen by the four Glenbard principals. In regards to the committee members on the committee, “they thought it would be good to reach out to our parent organizations,” said Creech. The principals “emailed every person who was on a parent executive board in all four of the buildings,” explained Creech, they explained what the committee was doing and asked if anyone was interested in getting involved. If more than one parent reached out “the principals literally just picked names out of a hat,” said Creech. 

The committee’s first meeting was held on March 8th, “we had all eighteen committee members there, and then we invited the complainants, who had gone through that whole process to come and talk to the committee. So they each had 10 minutes, they could bring a guest with them and they could share their thoughts and their concerns about the books to the committee,” said Creech, summarizing the meeting. Additional meetings will be held to go through the materials and formulate a recommendation on whether or not the committee feels the books should be removed. 

Out of the eighteen members, fourteen members will vote as principals will make the final decision and thus do not vote during the Ad Hoc committee vote. Once the committee votes and makes their recommendation, that recommendation goes back to the principals for the final vote to decide if the books will be kept or removed from the library. 

“The committee is going to be looking at a wide array of materials,” said Creech when explaining how the library materials will be evaluated.  Not only did the committee hear the presentations from the complainants but, “We’re looking at getting some more information from our librarians and our district attorney at future meetings.” The committee will also be looking at the forms that the complainants filled out with their initial requests for the books to be removed. “We had an email address for the committee that was open for a couple of weeks where we were asking for all of our community members’ thoughts on that. And so that whole packet of emails has been shared with the committee as well,” stated Creech. The  emails received totaled 170. The formal letters requesting an appeal to the principal’s original decision to keep the books in the libraries are also included. 

Not only is there a large amount of materials the committee will sift through but the committee members each have some required reading. “We also asked all 18 members of the committee to read each book fully. So there’s a lot of homework,” said Creech. 

The committee will be evaluating and discussing each one of these materials in their following meetings before making their recommendation. 

For those interested in keeping up to date with this process there will be updates on the committee’s process at each forthcoming board meeting.