Plaquemines Parish School Board lifts 'To Kill a Mockingbird' ban

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wwltv.com

Posted on October 22, 2013 at 10:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 22 at 10:41 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

BELLE CHASSE, La. -- On Tuesday the Plaquemines Parish School Board lifted a 12-year ban on the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird."

The controversy resurfaced in early October after teachers were discovered reading the book to students.

Now the school board says it will review its policies regarding textbooks and other reading materials.

The novel by Harper Lee has been a staple in American literature classes for decades.

Lareclial Mitchell remembers reading it back in the day and knows her two fifth graders will likely do the same. She can't understand why efforts have been made to ban it in Plaquemines Parish over the years.

"I don't like it," Mitchell said. "Books are very important to students as well as us parents. Books broaden your vocabulary."

The book, which encompasses serious issues like rape and racial inequality, hasn't always been a favorite of the Plaquemines Parish School Board.

The board originally banned that book back in 2001, citing concerns about offensive language and adult themes.

"There's the Internet. So if kids want to know something they can easily access the Internet and Google it," said Mitchell.

Marjorie Esman with the ACLU of Louisiana said the civil rights organization has been pushing for the book ban to be lifted and is pleased by these latest developments.

"It's been there for quite some time, never should have been implemented in the first place. And obviously the teachers didn't agree with it and they've been teaching the book anyway," said ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director Marjorie Esman.

Plaquemines Parish School Board Superintendent Denis Rousselle says as of Tuesday copies of "To Kill A Mockingbird" are back in students hands and on bookshelves.

Rousselle, who wasn't available for an on-camera interview, tells Eyewitness News the book ban dates back to his predecessor. He said any complaints about reading materials will still be addressed by the school district.

"We have a procedure that is set up for students and parents that feel that the content in some of the books is offensive to them. They can come before me and a committee. If we feel it's appropriate we will reassign them another book to read," said Rousselle.

Moving forward, Esman said, Plaquemines Parish School officials tell her they'll be reviewing their current policies next month and be offering up recommendations to the school board.

"We don't know what they'll do. They may do the right thing then and recognize they can't be censoring books," said Esman.

 

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