Parent appeals to ban To Kill A Mockingbird from Columbia County schools

EVANS, Georgia (WJBF) – A complaint about a well-known literature article has sparked a review by Columbia County leaders.

Parent and educator Lori Van Lenten said she was disappointed with a local parent’s recent push to ban the book, To Kill A Mockingbird because of racial language.

“How do we teach them to have these kinds of conversations and think about these things from another person’s perspective,” she explained. “We can take that example and say it happened in history and that’s how people spoke in those days. This is unacceptable. It’s not okay and here’s why it’s hurtful.

NewsChannel 6 spoke with Columbia County School District Associate Superintendent Michele Sherman about the appeal. She said at this time, the book has not been banned. She said it wasn’t required reading either. Instead, teachers can choose the book, which is marked for high school freshmen, from a list of approved novels.

“At one of our high schools, one of our teachers was using this book, this novel in her classroom to meet the content area standards. That created the challenge,” said Michele Sherman, Associate Superintendent, Columbia County School District.

To Kill A Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee and published in 1960, won a Pulitzer Prize a year later. The novel is set in a fictional town in Alabama during the Great Depression. There, a black man is accused of raping a white woman and his lawyer’s children watch the trial unfold. Sherman said the parent who filed the appeal will have the opportunity to share their concerns with the Learning Resources Appeals Committee, made up of teachers and parents.

Sherman added, “The committee will hear this, and then each person will have to read the book in its entirety. And then they have a rubric that they complete with. Then they will make a decision. And then the parent is alerted to this decision.

Van Lenten also told us that she presented the book to her eldest when he was in eighth grade and also had a real discussion with him about race and other topics mentioned in the pages. And she said she trusted Columbia County’s highly trained educators to do the right thing.

She added: “If you are a parent who has a problem with this book, you have the right to take your child out of school and homeschool it.”

Sherman said the committee meets on February 22 and a decision on the book takes place at that meeting.

Photojournalist: Regynal McKie

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